Bling in the holiday season on 'Candy Cane Lane'

Main Street will get decked out in holiday bling this Friday to become "Candy Cane Lane" for the 16th annual Festival of Light.

About 100 locals festooned in twinkle lights, glow sticks and flashers will march from the Ashland Public Library to the Plaza in the 5 p.m. parade.

At 5:45 p.m., the event's Santa and Mrs. Claus — who look oddly similar to Ed Taylor, local internet marketing consultant; and Annie Hoy, Ashland Food Cooperative outreach manager — will clamor onto Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar balcony and lead a countdown to the Grand Illumination, when more than a million lights will be switched on.

"It's an enchanting experience," said Katharine Flanagan, marketing director for the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, which is hosting the parade. "We take pride in providing a free community event where folks can get together and enjoy community."

The chamber expects about 20,000 people to attend the gathering, Flanagan said.

Following the Illumination, children can sit on Santa's lap in his workshop, at the Black Swan Theatre, until 8 p.m.

The chamber will also give Bright Light Awards to the best lights, children's and musical parade entries.

Before the parade, the Hula Troup, Peace Choir, Havurah Singers, Ashland Brass Quintet and Camelot Theatre will provide entertainment on the Plaza stage and throughout downtown. Livia Genise, artistic director of Camelot Theatre, will serve as the emcee.

Unlike in previous years, the holiday celebration, themed "Candy Cane Lane ... Destination Ashland," will continue each weekend in December, Flanagan said. Carolers will serenade downtown shoppers, who will be able to take free photos with Santa from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sundays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Information Center on the corner of Pioneer and East Main streets.

"The warmth and friendliness experienced at community events underscores Ashland's small town values and gives you a chance to run into friends and neighbors celebrating community spirit," Flanagan stated in a release.

Information on other holiday events is available on the chamber's Web site,

Staff writer Hannah Guzik can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226.

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