While the holiday spirit may start as early as November for many, Rohnert Park and Cotati brought in more holiday spirit this weekend. On Friday, Dec. 1, Cotati held its annual tree lighting party in La Plaza Park and Rohnert Park held its tree lighting on Saturday, where both saw a great turnout.
In Cotati, people walked around in a decorated park. The setting was perfect for a small town holiday, with big presents placed underneath the trees, which themselves were decorated with lights and ribbons. Booths were set up all around with a variety of things to do and shop for, such as Free Child ID’s, Maggie’s Candles, a boutique, Comic Workshop (where kids could draw comics and customers could purchase works) and Parallel Family play (board games).
There was also a variety of food trucks. Kids excitedly ran up to a cart that consisted of swords and light up sticks, some shaped to look like tools from the popular game “Minecraft.” The Bookmobile was also there, and guests could pick two free books and a bookmark.
“Events like these help us connect with our community and give them great resources, including books,” said Glen Weaver, head of the Bookmobile. “It’s great for not just the holidays, but year round.”
There was also a train set up by the City of Cotati and presented by members of Jump. It was a miniature train, decorated colorfully, that brought kids and parents around the edge of the park, and it brought in a long line. “We feel it helps make the experience even more magical, and brings citizens of this town together,” said Christian Delagnes, a board member and volunteer from city council.
The Grinch also arrived and read Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to the kids in the nearby gazebo (while being spotted sneaking away some of the presents around the park). And then upon the gazebo, music was performed by the Butterdishes and children’s choir, along with a birthday shoutout to the lead of the choir, Alina Peterson. And finally, Santa showed up on a fire truck, and kids lined up to come take pictures with him.
In Rohnert Park, they also held the booths, such as Fundemonium, Exchange Bank, Chik Fil A, Swirl Time, Canopy Health, Sonoma Health Center, etc. Most served cider and candy canes alongside other sweets, and also crafts and shopping. Santa sat upon a giant sleigh, with families lined up to meet him. Music was performed by the Rancho Cotate High School choir and orchestra. And both nights ended with the trees being lit up and people cheering as the holiday spirit officially rang in.
One of the most important aspects of both celebrations, however, was seeing the community come together to make the holidays magical after the tragic Tubbs and Nuns fires, which had devastated the lives of many of the people who had shown up. In Cotati, city council member Wendy Skillman thanked the many volunteers and groups volunteering not just for the event, but for the community in general.
“I love it here, it brings all of us, working on the event and the community, together,” she said.
At Rohnert Park, Remax held a booth where kids could decorate cards to donate to fire victims. “After these fires, these holidays will have us unite more than ever,” said Erika and David Rendino, heads of Remax for Rohnert Park. “We will have a lot to overcome still, but we will find happiness as we unite, and work hard to rebuild our homes and lives. Sonoma County will continue to stand strong.”