In Dilley, Oregon the winter weather may be cold and frightful, but the folks who keep tradition alive are warm and delightful.
Since early November, Sue Marshall’s family has touched up the scenery, strung the lights and kept alive a holiday tradition called “Storybook Lane.”
Sue Marshall said that the acre-sized event has been a Christmas gift to friends and neighbors since 1935.
“We get everything running that’s been stored for the past two years and we re-paint all of the characters that have paint that’s worn out…and after all these years, that can add up to lots of work.”
Sue’s mom, Marge O’Rear, remembers painting her first storybook scene in 1945. Through the decades, she’s drawn countless nursery rhyme characters that come to life with paint and wood.
Her granddaughter, Chris Marshall, lends a hand designing new characters for a younger generation of visitors. This year, the major addition is a life-sized rendition of “Shrek.”
“We come up with ideas and then Mom picks from them. We try to pick famous characters that kids recognize including a lot of the fairy tales.”
A winding trail leads visitors past more than 70 displays that go up every other year.
Beginning December 15 and continuing through Christmas this year the lights shimmer, children scamper and music plays while families stroll thru a show that really shines.
And it may warm you to know that “Storybook Lane” is free to all visitors of any age – and it begins each evening at 5pm sharp.
“I want anyone to be able to come to it,” added Marshall. “Not just the people who can afford to come. Plus, there aren’t that many things you can do on Christmas; especially that families can afford to visit.”
Directions: Drive south from Forest Grove on State Highway 47 for approximately three miles to Dilley. Watch for signs to “Storybook Lane” on the left side of the highway. It opens each day at 5 p.m. beginning Saturday, December 15 and continuing through Christmas.
In Keizer, Oregon holiday lighting is a community effort that means pitching in to help neighbors in need.
The event is called the “Miracle of Christmas” and it’s a driving or walking route of decorated homes that stretches more than three miles thru the Gubser neighborhood.
“It’s a real family event,” said Lori Christopher, the Mayor of Keizer. “Some families who come to tour have matching pajamas that they wear each year. Folks make it one of their family traditions.”
Hundreds of homes glimmer with impressive displays in an event that neighbor Jim Taylor called “bit of friendly and neighborly competition” that began in 1985.
“It is kind of an off shoot of neighbors having a little contest with more and more lights up and down the street each year. We quickly had so many people participating that we thought why not take donations and help the Marion-Polk Food Share.”
Last year, the 26-day event collected more than 25-thousand pounds of food and more than $18,000 to help the community.
“It’s one of those events that’s critical to bringing in emergency food to help people,” said Ron Hayes, the Director of the Marion-Polk Food Share program. “Folks are so gung ho and carry it on from year to year. It can’t get any better than that.”
There is no admission fee and the Keizer Miracle of Christmas Lights continues through December 26.
The Oregon coast is a many splendored place boasting unique sights and sounds that will amaze you anytime of the year.
It’s safe to say that most holiday lights don’t hold a candle to the ones the Friends of Shore Acres State Park put up each year.
The folks who show up each weekend beginning before Halloween and go the extra mile to light Oregon’s only botanical garden state park.
A small, dedicated group of twenty-five or so will spend all of their free time on weekends, putting up the park lights and displays in time for opening night on thanksgiving day.
They will stretch 3400 strings of lights and it is hard, painstaking work to get them to look and to work just right. Many say it is also the sort of work that makes them feel good and puts a smile on their face.
David Barnhart (he travels all the way from Seaside on the northern Oregon coast each weekend,) said: “I just enjoy the people and the camaraderie. There’s quite a group of people out here; usually the same ones every year and it’s a lot of work so we couldn’t get the job done without them.”
Preson Phillips, the manager of Shore Acres State Park, agreed that people feel good lending a hand to get the park ready.
In fact, he said that all the work, all of the expenses – even the electric bill – are all paid by the “Friends of Shore Acres:”
“I don’t know if I can explain it,” noted Phillips. “ I believe there is something about this site, this garden, this community where pure volunteerism from the community comes out each weekend to make this happen – maybe it’s just pride in the park.”
“Pride” resonates across the seven acre park, despite uncertain times, tough economic times in a county with one of the state’s highest unemployment rates, noted volunteer David Bridgham.
He said that the worst of times seems to bring out the best in people who want to brighten their park, support their community and show visitors that they care about the place they call home.
“This event is a touchstone! This place is where the community comes together and it’s a tradition. People know it’s going to be here every year and they can be a part of it.”
David added, “what thrills me is that there are so many adults who don’t know the Christmas or the holidays without coming out here to see the holiday lights and that’s s touching, even rewarding. it puts me in the Christmas spirit.”
The holiday lights – a magical gift for you from the good friends of Coos County who keep the lights burning in a special place by the sea called shore acres.
The holiday lights continue through New Year’s Eve and the park is open daily and closes each night at 10pm. There is no entry fee, but there is a required three-dollar state park parking permit.