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Riverview Park decorated with lights in 2020. While the park's blue spruce tree is no longer there, a tree will be provided for decorating, along with a large increase in the number of lights and decorations in the park.

Last year, an almost spontaneous community venture saw Riverview Park decorated for Christmas. This year, members of the Cascade Community are looking to repeat the spark of festive community spirit, but crank it up a notch by expanding with more decorations in preparation for Cascade’s first Winter Festival.

Jackie McAllister, a member of the Lighting Committee, said, “We are decorating the park to spread the joy and be festive for the holidays, for all the citizens in Cascade, as well as hoping to bring people to town to enjoy the lights and visit the businesses. The downtown is really expanding with new and existing businesses and with the donations, we can add more lights and holiday décor.”

Another member of the Lighting Committee, Shontell Orrr, said the decorating and festival were spurred by the community’s positive reception of last year’s park decorating.

“We had talked last year about doing it again, then other people came forward and said we should decorate the park and do a winter festival with other things in the community. We had a Heart and Soul meeting not too long ago and a group of people were talking about different ideas for the winter festival. We knew we were a bit short on help this year and didn’t know if we’d be able to do it or not, but the girls at the meeting said, ‘We can help out, we’ll take over and start planning the festival part. We just need the park decorated so we can run with that piece of it.’”

While details on the festival itself have yet to be announced, recruitment for decorating volunteers and funds is in full force. According to McAllister, both last year’s decorations and newly-purchased ones will be used, with the decorating being coordinated by two of Cascade’s champion Christmas light architects.

“Last year we purchased some great decorations, which we will use, as well as adding more decorations with the donations that we collect this year. Nolan Hemmer and Coon Leytem are very experienced with outdoor holiday decor. They have huge light displays in their yards and they even sync to music. We are super fortunate that both of them are willing to help out and coordinate the park’s Christmas lights this year...We need a lot of volunteers to set up the lights, decorate the fence and pavilion, put up greenery and bows. The more hands we have helping, the easier it will be.”

One key difference from last year’s park decorating will be the absence of the old blue spruce tree which served as a living Christmas Tree centerpiece last year. While the tree had to be removed due to its age and health, Orr said there are plans to bring in new trees for decorating.

“Bill McCarthy, who helped us with the tree removal, is bringing us a new tree to have out for Christmas decorating, so we will have a tree down there. It will be put down at the amphitheater, and there may possibly be more than one, so there will be a tree to light.”

While the chief center of the decorating will be Riverview Park, Main Street will have a new holiday look as well thanks to new Christmas decorations purchased by the City of Cascade and Cascade Municipal Utilities. They will be hung by Cascade Municipal Utilities in the next several weeks. According to McAllister, even more decorations could be added by the Lighting Committee if enough funds come in.

“As for right now, depending on how many donations we get, we will put them towards decorating the park. If we receive more donations, we’d like to keep adding to the downtown area to make it more festive for the holidays for this year and for years to come. We are asking for cash donations because we want new items that will last for several years.”

The winter festival itself is scheduled for Dec. 4, and while most details are unknown, Orr said it will feature contributions from several local businesses.

“When we decorated the park last year, business owners came forward saying things like ‘We should have hot chocolate’, or ‘We should have Santa’, so we reached back out to those businesses and are working to get them involved. There’s been talk of caroling, lighting the park up that day, announcing the winners of the Cascade Chamber Light Contest, doing a storybook reading for the library, all of that would be on this day.”

If you would like to donate for more decorations to the park, Venmo Jackie McAllister @jackie-mcallister-2 with “River Park” in the subject line. Cash donations can also be dropped off, at City Hall, J. Salon & Spa or Lyon’s Service Center in an envelope labeled “River Park Christmas.” Volunteers can offer their services at City Hall.