Leave it to Santa to attract a crowd.
Hermiston’s downtown Festival Street was packed with people Thursday night for the city of Hermiston’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and a special visit from Santa.
Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith and Hermiston Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Pedro thanked the crowd for the big turnout and praised the downtown businesses for the holiday-themed window displays.
Santa arrived shortly after 6 p.m. to light the 40-foot Christmas tree – the city’s largest ever. Umatilla Electric Cooperative helped deliver and set up the massive tree covered in about 2,000 lights.
Before and during the lighting of the tree, the crowd was treated to performances by the Hermiston High School jazz band and choir. Downtown stores stayed open, offering holiday sales as well as a warm shelter from the freezing cold.