Under a little hat with big eyes, Grace Owen, 2, witnessed the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in front of the Douglas County Courthouse for the first time.
Her parents, Daniel and Ariel Owen, have lived in Roseburg for a few years but didn’t come until this year, “Because we’ve got a two-year-old who absolutely enjoyed it,” Daniel Owen said.
“I thought it was fun, and it was really cool seeing her face with the countdown right by the tree,” he said. “First it was a look of awe, and then she started smiling and giggling, so very cute.”
Grace pointed out Santa’s red coat and hat and waved at everyone who passed.
Downtown Roseburg Association had Executive Director Susie Johnston-Forte introduce the speakers, including Santa, and asked children in the crowd what they wanted for Christmas.
Requests included happiness, a unicorn, Transformers, a new car, Legos and safety for the military.
County Commissioner Christine Goodwin gathered the crowd of children to the county courthouse steps for a reading of “Denslow’s Night Before Christmas,” a poem by Clement Clarke Moore.
Roseburg Mayor Larry Rich thanked the families who attended, both new and old, pointing out that some families make the tree lighting a family tradition every year.
He said for Roseburg, the Christmas season really begins with the lighting of “the beautiful Christmas tree.
Families like those of Sophia Mclaughlin, 8, and Haylee Marie McKenzie, 8, come every year and even get to participate. Sophia and Haylee Marie came dressed in their Eastwood Elementary cheerleading uniforms and stood with Santa Claus as he counted down to the lighting of the tree.
Santa Claus arrived in a fire truck with lights flashing, making people cover their eyes. He led the chant with the cheerleaders to the lighting of the tree.
“The best thing about the Christmas tree lighting is the giant tree. We love Christmas,” Haylee shouted.
“Yes,” Sophia agreed matter-of-factly.
Carson McMahan, 6, came for the first time and had a different opinion about Christmas.
“Christmas is about friends and family and the Christmas spirit we spread all around,” Carson said. “My favorite part about Christmas is the cheer we spread around.”
Carson came with his dad, sister and mom, Kaitlyn McMahan who grew up in Roseburg but had missed out for a few years.
“It’s pretty much the same,” McMahan said. “I missed it. It’s just kind of a family tradition that we are carrying on with our new little family.