WANTED: Group to Put on Festival of Lights

Lighted Parade
If there is going to be a Festival of Lights this winter, it will have to be organized by a new group of volunteers. The current festival committee members are no longer able to put in the time to organize the event.

Summer is approaching and the warm, sunny weather may have people thinking of beaches and barbecues right about now, but there’s a local group that want others to be thinking of the Christmas holiday season.

More specifically, the Festival of Lights Committee is seeking a group of volunteers to take over the annual holiday event.

According to committee member Karen Hutchinson-Talaski, the current group of volunteers are no longer able to put in the time necessary to organize the festival and want a new group to grab hold of the reins. Hutchinson-Talaski said the committee doesn’t a want a repeat of last year when the festival was canceled for the first time in its 14-year history.

“We would like a service group or some group of volunteers to take this over,” she said. “The current committee members are unable to continue and are hoping there is a group of people who want the Festival of Lights to continue.”

Hutchinson-Talaski said she posted an announcement on Facebook about a month asking for volunteers to step up, but has received no response. With the calendar now in June, the clock is ticking, she said. It takes several months of organization and a large team of volunteers to put on the light display at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds, as well as putting together the parade that traditionally kicks off the festival.

One advantage a new group will likely have that the current committee didn’t is a 501c3 nonprofit designation. The current committee began the application process a year ago and Hutchinson-Talaski said they were recently informed that things are moving ahead and could receive the official designation within a month or two. Hutchinson-Talaski said the nonprofit status will allow the committee to apply for grants for new light displays.

“It will give the new folks a leg up,” she said.

But first, some new folks need to be found. Hutchinson-Talaski said anyone or group interested in serving on the committee should contact Spike Piersol at 541-571-5065.