File photo by Darla Hussey The name may change but the feeling of community will stay the same.

File photo by Darla Hussey

The name may change but the feeling of community will stay the same.

New moniker, new town lights for Thanksgiving weekend celebration

By Don Nelson

The annual Winthrop celebration that for years has been known as “Christmas at the End of the Road” will have a new name and a bright new look this year.

At last week’s meeting of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event the weekend after Thanksgiving, it was announced that it will instead be called “Thanksgiving in Winthrop,” “Thanksgiving at the End of the Road,” or something similar to denote that the day’s activities are kicking off the holiday season rather than concluding it.

The usual events — which include Santa’s arrival, caroling, holiday music, horse-drawn carriage rides, hot air balloons, children’s winter fest, a fun run, other Winthrop attractions and a spectacular fireworks show — won’t change.

What will be different is how downtown will look after the ceremonial town lighting ceremony, which takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving just before the fireworks show.

For years, downtown buildings have been decorated with strings of white lights that are all switched on at Thanksgiving and remain lighted through winter. The lights decorate the upper façades of the buildings, so that the buildings are outlined when it turns dark.

In a letter to downtown businesses, the chamber’s marketing committee noted that the mix-and-match collection of lighting “has fallen well below exceptional.” So, the chamber is offering to buy and install enough new lighting strands to decorate all of downtown with LED lights. All downtown area businesses are eligible.

The chamber will purchase matching C9 “warm white” energy-efficient lights that it will install with the help of the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative. The lights comply with the town’s Westernization code lighting specifications.

Kristen Smith, marketing director for the chamber, said the lights will be installed on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and 2. Business owners are asked to have existing lights removed by then. The chamber will arrange for existing lights to be removed at the business owner’s request, Smith said.

Once the new lights are installed, they become the property and responsibility of the business owner.

Individual businesses may decorate windows, doors and awning posts separately, as long as the lights meet Westernization code requirements.

Funds to purchase the news lights come from the town’s hotel/motel tax proceeds that are designated for marketing efforts.

Smith said the chamber’s marketing focus will continue to be on increasing winter tourism.