On a night where the rest of the country was flocking to the stores or surfing the internet for the best Black Friday deals to kick off the Christmas buying frenzy, Ellensburg joined in on Pearl Street in a scene straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Spending time in historical downtown factored in to the financial success of the evening, but the people, particularly the children, were caught up in the down-to-earth part of Christmas and the celebration sponsored by the Ellensburg Downtown Association. Things like the Teddy Bear’s First Christmas play at Fitterer’s Furniture or the cookie scavenger hunt throughout the downtown district or the crowd favorite, dancing in the State Farm windows in the Davidson Building, which has anchored Ellensburg’s downtown since 1889.

The weather didn’t bring the snow like it had to much of the country, but the chill in the air and the temperature dipping near 20 added to the atmosphere like a sleigh ride on Christmas night. Children and their parents snuggled together on the benches on the sidewalk outside, attention intense on the dancers inside the State Farm office.

It seemed almost comical that the audience was dressed in knit caps, parkas and mittens with puffs of breath casting what looked like steam into the air, while the dancers inside were wearing tutu’s and bright ballerina costumes in their performance. But such as it was, it was truly a Moment to Remember in downtown Ellensburg.

As the night grew dark, the crowd which had reached hundreds by that point, began to make its way down to the Rotary Pavilion, which has been purchased by the city. As city planners work to design a plan for the use of the downtown park, they are surly very much aware of its significance this time of year.

The street filled with people and children anxiously awaiting the lighting of the downtown pavilion, officially kicking off the holiday season. The wee ones looked on in awe as Santa Claus walked back and forth across the stage, waving to the people and inviting them closer. Some ran up for a quick photograph with Santa, and even some of the adults gave way to the inner child and gathered around Santa one more time.

He picked out some Santa’s helpers to assist with the lighting of the trees near the pavilion as a sea of little hands shot into the air with hopes of being selected for the all-important task.

Then, sure as the night was dark, the task was at hand. The crowd counted down from three, then shouted Merry Christmas as the lights lit up the night sky to a cheer from the people lining the street. It was just the day after Thanksgiving, but the holiday season in historical downtown Ellensburg had arrived as it has for decades, with smiles and laughter, families coming together, drinking hot cider and cocoa, enjoying the company of friends and family.

There was just one last thing to do. Santa knew how to work a crowd. “I want you all to join me in a song,” he said with a dramatic pause. “It has to do with something about Santa.”

“You better watch out.

You better not cry ...”

That’s all it took for the masses in the street to join in and the voices rang out as one. “I want to hear just the children,” Santa said, sounding a little like John, Paul, George and Ringo asking fans to sing “Let It Be.”

They were all over it, knowing all the words, and when it ended it was not the end, more like sweet memories and a Moment to Remember in Ellensburg.

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