"We are an intelligent species and the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure. In this respect the brain is like a muscle.
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Vol. 20, No. 8 • Mailed monthly to over 12, 400 homes in the Gateway & Parkrose Communities Free • DECMBER 2004
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The Grotto’s Festival of Lights
Columbia Knoll units available soon
Community leaders seek Weed and Seed for Hazelwood, Montavilla
122nd Avenue study gears up
Ride Airport MAX to December holiday
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TriMet proposes short-term parking meters
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The Grotto’s Festival of Lights

‘Let There Be Peace On Earth’ theme of 17th annual Festival of Lights at The Grotto



As the evening begins to settle, the plaza at The Grotto begins to glow with the splendor of over half-a-million lights that decorate the lower level gardens during its annual Festival of Lights.
Photo courtesy of Patty Williams of The Grotto
During holiday times, we Americans look forward to favorite traditions like multicolored sparkling lights, uplifting choral music, and the reunion of family and friends.

In keeping with tradition, this year’s Christmas Festival of Lights at The Grotto opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 26, and continues nightly through Thursday, December 30, 2004 (excluding Christmas Day). The Grotto expects to welcome over 60,000 visitors to Mid-County as they come to enjoy this ecumenical Christmas event.

The festival features over a half million lights including animated lighting displays, narrated fiber-optic displays, and other dramatic displays focusing on the story of the birth of Christ. Entertainment highlights include holiday music concerts, a dramatic living history theater program, and a puppet show and petting zoo. Seasonal food and beverages are also available.

Music has always been a part of the Festival of Lights, and this year it opened with a very special music opportunity, as Mid-County’s own Michael Allen Harrison was at the festival to celebrate the CD release of a performance given at the Festival of Lights last year. Harrison returns on closing night Thursday, December 30, to perform with Julianne Johnson. Festival admission includes entry to all music performances. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early for seating, as space is limited. This year, the Oregon Festival and Events Association awarded the Festival of Lights an Ovation Award for best music program for a festival in Oregon.

Thanks to the generous support of attendees at The Grotto’s fall auction this year, The Grotto will complete the new life-size nativity as the centerpiece of the Christmas Festival of Lights. This beautiful set was made at Demetz Art Studio in Ortisei, Italy, and was crafted after a hand-carved set that is displayed each year at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

Last year’s Festival of Lights at The Grotto displayed several pieces of a new life-size nativity purchased from Italy. This year the three kings, a camel, a sheep and a second shepherd will be added to complete the set.
Photo courtesy of Larry Kirby of The Grotto
The Grotto Gift Shop displays a wide variety of inspirational gifts for your holiday shopping.
Photo courtesy of Patty Williams of The Grotto
This 2003 Festival of Lights performance by Michael Allen Harrison was recorded, and a CD released at this year’s opening night.
Photo courtesy of Larry Kirby of The Grotto
Visitors to the festival have always been great at bringing food to support the work of SnowCAP Community Charities. This year, festival attendees are invited to help SnowCAP help others by bringing a gift of baby food. Baby food (especially fruits, vegetables, proteins and dried formula) is a critical need and is difficult for SnowCAP to come by. This Community Action Program benefits many people in our area. SnowCAP runs several food and clothing programs for low-income residents of the Mid-County area. These programs have served over 4,000 different families in the last year. This translates to over 65,000 visits for various services. These programs include distribution of food boxes, produce distribution on Tuesdays, a co-op-type program called Community Basket and a community garden.

As always, each visitor to the Festival of Lights is invited to enter the Christmas Gift Drawing. The grand prize for adults this year is two round-trip tickets to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies. The children’s grand prize is one year of free video rentals from Hollywood Video, along with several free DVDs, and a basket filled with popcorn and candy. In addition to the grand prize drawing, there are drawings for a variety of other gifts generously donated by companies from throughout the area.

The success of this Christmas celebration is heavily dependent on volunteer support, with over 50 volunteers needed each night. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities during the festival, call 503-261-2408.

The festival is a walk-through event. While all entertainment areas are fully tented and concerts are performed indoors, visitors should dress for the weather including warm rubber-soled shoes. The festival meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and is completely accessible. Ample free parking is available.

The gates are open nightly from 5 until 9:30 p.m. Admission is $7 for general admission and $3 for children 3-12 years of age. Children age two and under are admitted free. The Grotto is located at Northeast 85th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard in Portland. More information is available on the grotto’s Web site at www.thegrotto.org.

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, or The Grotto as it is commonly called, is a 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden. The Grotto is a nonprofit Oregon corporation, supported solely by the proceeds of its gift shop and by donations. The Friars of the Order of Servants of Mary administer The Grotto.

Tickets for the annual Festival of Lights at The Grotto are available at The Grotto Gift Shop, all Ticketmaster outlets and at the gate. General information, nightly performance schedules, and other festival details may be obtained by calling 503-261-2400.
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