Festival lights up downtown

Kaylee Remington

Light snow fell over downtown Kent as the Festival of Lights lit up the Home Savings Plaza Saturday night with at least a hundred in attendance.

At 5:30 p.m., the line for Santa around the plaza was filled with anxious children and their parents.

Amy Martz, a Kent resident, brought her two boys, 6-year-old Dylan and 4-year-old Owen. They got in line at 5:15 p.m. and were some of the first in line. Dylan asked Santa for a Zhu Zhu Pet. Owen wanted a toy train or a Zhu Zhu Pet.

“He only wants a Zhu Zhu Pet because his brother wants one,” Martz said.

The free hot chocolate and cookies table and the letter writing station were busy the whole night as children went from one to the other.

“Santa station is a huge hit,” said Lori Wemhoff, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re real excited.”

Anne Moneypenny, past president of the Chamber of Commerce, said this night couldn’t be more perfect.

“We have good weather, and the snow helps it,” Moneypenny said.

She said international students came to observe the annual festival, and the Kent Roosevelt High School Choir A.C.E.S performed.

Megan O’Shaughnessy, a senior managerial marketing major, said she wasn’t planning on coming to the festival, but it caught her attention.

“I was having dinner at Franklin Square Deli, and I wanted to check it out,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Santa arrived downtown around 6 p.m. by train. Parents and children ran across the street to greet him. The plaza lawn, sidewalk and Main Street were covered with residents. The train was decorated with Christmas lights, and a boy’s face lit up as he sat on his father’s shoulders to see. Another boy, with a wool Elmo hat, shouted, “I hear Santa’s train!”

As Santa’s train pulled up, the tree was lit and Mayor Jerry Fiala made an appearance as well.

“I got to ride in the train with Santa with my three grandsons,” he said.

Fiala said he thinks the festival is good for the community and that it brings happiness to downtown.

As Santa settled on his wooden rocking chair, the first child greeted him with a smile. The first toy on the boy’s list: a Buzz Lightyear.

Contact Kaylee Remington at [email protected].