BY JOYCE CHEN
The News Tribune
They came for the cheer. They came for the lights. They came for the memories.
Hundreds of South Sounders got a jump start on holidays at the 64th annual holiday tree lighting Saturday evening outside the Pantages Theater on Broadway.
The 50-foot Christmas tree lit up to the cheers of 800 to 1,000 attendees.
Federal Way’s Sara Slater held the hands of her two grandsons, Hatcher, 6, and Rizley, 8, as the lights flickered on.
“I must have come here 30 years ago with my children,” Slater said. When she attended in past years, “Pantages was run down. The downtown has improved; there’s more of a community sense now.”
Before the countdown, people milled in the tightly packed theater lobby, clutching cups of apple cider. A live military band of five Fort Lewis soldiers played “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and other holiday standards.
The tree lighting has been a long-standing tradition for Deanna Richardson of Bonney Lake, who arrived with her husband Chris and her daughter Hannah, 8. “My parents were born and raised in Tacoma, so they’ve done this ever since they were children.”
Richardson recalled being her daughter’s age and going to the lighting, preceded by a showing of “The Nutcracker.” Several times, she has brought all the children from the daycare she runs. Over the years, she added, the festivities have become “not as chaotic—people are more friendly.”
Todd Logan of Tacoma was at the lighting for the first time with his 5-year-old daughter, McKenna. They originally came for the theater’s 3 p.m. showing of “The Polar Express.”
“It’s one of her favorite shows,” he said.
McKenna, attired in a sparkly Santa cap and red skirt, added: “We have the DVD at home.”
Logan took McKenna to see Santa, who made the rounds in the theater lobby. Event coordinator
Phyllis Harrison was especially proud of the tree this year. “It’s the best shape we’ve ever had.”
Chris Atkinson of Tacoma, an electrician with the fire department, spent eight days stringing up lights on the tree. “It turned out great,” he said, admiring his handiwork. “When you’re out there in your rain gear, branches hitting you in the face, it’s not fun, but once you hit the switch and the lights go on, it’s impressive.”
Joyce Chen: (253) 597-8426