Non-Profits Help “Light Up the Night” at Riverfront Park Pavilion with Christmas Trees Showcasing Their Work
When visitors stroll through the Riverfront Park Pavilion through Jan. 1, they can expect another light show—this one on several Christmas trees—underneath its canopy.
The second annual “Light Up the Night Community Tree Display” features trees decorated by local non-profits on the floor of the Pavilion, and visitors who come down the next two weekends (Fri-Sun) will be treated to an additional free light show on the canopy.
Last year, before the pilot of this program started, the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation staff asked themselves how they could bring holiday cheer to their open spaces and provide a way for the community to find activities to do during the COVID-19 restrictions.
“We wanted to look at safe alternatives for the community,” said Garret Jones, Parks and Recreation director. “And this type of event at Riverfront Park is great because we’re really highlighting our great non-profit organizations.”
While there are about the same number of “community-based and community-driven” groups featured this year (38) compared to last year’s event (39), according to Jones, there have been some changes to where the trees are displayed.
Currently, the trees are located in the ring of the Pavilion and inside the nearby administration building because they ran into vandalism problems last season when the trees were displayed throughout the park, some trees found in the river.
Still, it was such a success they decided to move forward and include this experience in their annual plan for Riverfront Park moving forward.
“We are thrilled to be back … with our gratitude-themed Christmas tree. We adorned it with framed logos of foundations and corporations that have supported Women & Children’s Free Restaurant through the pandemic. With their generous support, the restaurant has provided over two million meals since March 2020—10 times what we originally anticipated,” said Lisa Diffley the restaurant’s executive director in an email.
Holly Goodman, founder and executive director of The Isaac Foundation, used their tree to educate the community about their weighted blanket award program that gives individuals with autism or another medical diagnosis these hand-made blankets.
“Families have been blessed by these weighted blankets and they have joy in going down to the trees, finding their loved one’s picture on an ornament or their name on the list and taking a picture of it and sending it back to us,” said Goodman in a phone interview. “That’s part of my joy as well.”
A “relatively new organization” to Spokane, The Carl Maxey Center’s tree features the pan African flag and the Center’s own color theme along with resources they offer that fulfill their mission “to uplift the African American community in Spokane,” Brianna Rollins, program coordinator of the center, said in an email.
“Riverfront Park’s ‘Light Up the Night’ holiday tree display is an exciting opportunity for The Carl Maxey Center to introduce ourselves and share our work with the Spokane community,” said Rollins. “We also thought it would be fun to join in on the holiday spirit by decorating a tree and inviting the community to decorate it with us.”
In addition to the tree displays under and near the Pavilion, the last Winter Farmer’s Market, which features “local farmers, processors, artisans, and hand crafters” according to the Parks and Recreation website, will take place on Dec. 22, from 3-7 p.m.
Jones and his team at Riverfront Park saw another need met at last year’s event that was another reason they decided to continue doing “Light Up the Night” in years to come: partnerships.
“Another huge strategy that we took out of 2020 in the pandemic [was] breaking down those silos and realizing that we can’t achieve one goal on our own,” said Jones. “We need to have those partners and that creates ownership as well of our parks and open spaces.”
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