Wings ’n Wishes celebration

The lighted Christmas tree in front of East Wenatchee City Hall. (Empire Press photo/Darlene Paterson)

 

By Darlene Paterson
Empire Press Correspondent

Jolly old Saint Nick lights up the night outside of East Wenatchee City Hall. (Empire Press photo/Darlene Paterson)

City Events Coordinator Dan White and his team of volunteers provided a night of fun and excitement for hundreds of children and adults during Numerica Credit Union’s annual Wings ’n Wishes Christmas tree lighting celebration Dec. 7 at East Wenatchee City Hall.

The free community event is one of East Wenatchee’s celebrations commemorating Miss Veedol, the small plane that carried Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon Jr. on the first nonstop trans-Pacific flight in October of 1931. Taking off from Misawa, Japan, Miss Veedol landed on a dirt landing strip at Fancher Field in East Wenatchee.

Around 80 students from Sterling K-7 School choirs kicked off the night’s festivities singing a medley of 11 Christmas carols.

A child poses for a photo with Santa at East Wenatchee City Hall. (Empire Press photo/Darlene Paterson)

“This is the second year we have sung for Wings ’n Wishes,” choir director Ami VanderSluis said. “The kids enjoy the treats and all the lights and they love singing, so this gives them another opportunity. They had fun practicing for this and I think they enjoyed doing it.”

“My fifth grade choir presented their Christmas concert last week,” VanderSluis added. “Next Tuesday night, Dec. 12, the sixth and seventh grade choir will perform, singing different songs than the ones they did tonight.”

“Welcome to East Wenatchee’s annual Wings ’n Wishes,” Mayor Steve Lacy said to everyone. “I’d especially like to thank Mrs. VanderSluis and the Sterling Christmas carolers for coming out and entertaining us tonight. Before we turn the lights on, I’d also like to express thanks to a few people. These things don’t happen without the help of many people and organizations.”

“I would especially like to thank Numerica Credit Union, our main sponsor tonight,” Lacy continued. “They are responsible for bringing our reindeer here tonight.”

The Sterling K-7 School choirs open the program with Christmas carols during the Numerica Credit Union’s Wings ‘n Wishes Christmas tree lighting celebration Dec. 7 at East Wenatchee City Hall. (Empire Press photo/Darlene Paterson)

Lacy also thanked those who furnished and delivered the tree, volunteers who set up or helped in any way, as well as the East Wenatchee Police Department, Street Department and Rotary Club.

The mayor then began the countdown to tree lighting — 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!

“Merry Christmas,” everyone yelled as lights on the giant Christmas tree illuminated the area.

Christmas music played in the background as those attending roamed the yard gazing at the lighted tree or watching the two reindeer graze while waiting for Santa’s arrival.

Soon blaring sirens were heard and blinking lights seen as Santa’s fire engine came down 9th Street escorted by two police cars in front and two behind, also with their lights blinking and sirens blaring.

Santa emerged from the fire engine to be greeted by the mayor, and then made his way through the cheering crowd up the steps and into city hall. Parents and children immediately formed a line to take a turn sitting on Santa’s lap for wishes and photos.

Lines also formed outside the building to receive a Christmas cookie, a cup of hot chocolate or a s’more. Members of the East Wenatchee Rotary Club roasted marshmallows over fires and put together s’mores for all who came through the line.

Reindeer graze inside a fence located at the southeast corner of the lawn. (Empire Press photo/Darlene Paterson)

Reindeer grazed inside a fence located at the southeast corner of the lawn. This proved to be a favorite spot for children and adults alike.

A sign outside the fence posted interesting information about reindeer. Reindeer are domesticated while caribou are wild reindeer. Reindeer all grow antlers — whether bulls, cows or calves.

“Antlers are soft, tender and blood filled, covered with smooth skin called velvet which contains thousands of blood vessels. Antlers carry calcium, a mineral for strong bones. Antlers also serve as a cooling system for the reindeer. Bulls use their antlers to attract cows or fight off predators or other bulls…”

Next to the reindeer pen, a red Santa sleigh was in place for kids to climb on for photos or just have fun.

Next to the sleigh, Numerica Credit Union representative Amy Smith handed out back packs to children who passed by. “We are really happy to be here,” Smith said.

Children and adults both displayed kindness and patience while waiting in lines and many children were heard saying “thank you” to volunteers. Even though those attending felt a chill in the evening air, everyone departed with warm hearts filled with Christmas cheer.

 

Decorated cookies are provided to guests. (Empire Press photo/Darlene Paterson)

 

East Wenatchee Rotary Club members roast marshmallows over fires and put together s’mores for all who came through the line. (Empire Press photo/Darlene Paterson)