VIDEO: West Seattle Junction Tree Lighting illuminates community for new arrivals and oldtimers alike

(EDITOR’S NOTE: More video from the event is here.)

Story/photos/video by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

As community Christmas trees go, the official West Seattle Junction tree is humble – subtle, even. It’s a warm glow of pinpoint lights rather than a brilliantly blazing bush. But it’s not really the main event at the annual Hometown Holidays Tree Lighting, presented by the West Seattle Junction Association – the main event is a sampler of community. And with hundreds of new residents within walking distance of Junction Plaza Park, tonight’s event served as a primer of sorts for them as much as a traditional community celebration.

The spotlight speaker, Menashe & Sons Jewelers proprietor Jack Menashe (above), mentioned that a majority of recent visitors to his store are new arrivals. That might be why emcee Josh Sutton from the West Seattle YMCA felt the need to point out to the crowd – surprisingly sizable for a rainy night – that the Menashes are the family who decorates their Beach Drive home with West Seattle’s brightest Christmas lights; if you knew this, it was especially charming to hear Jack Menashe talk about driving around West Seattle himself to look at others’ displays and expressing appreciation for them.

If you’re new here, you might not know that Lori Hinton (photo below) literally wrote the book on West Seattle – “West Seattle 101” – in the ’00s. (Some of its more-timeless features were republished here on WSB.)

At tonight’s Tree Lighting, she read a customized version of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” name-checking Junction stores and restaurants.

Another Junction entrepreneur featured tonight was Lora Swift (with Josh Sutton in the photo above), proprietor of Hotwire Online Coffeehouse, who told a few holiday jokes and reminded everyone about the big summertime series she organizes, West Seattle Outdoor Movies, a six-week series in the courtyard next to her coffee shop (watch in the spring for the annual round of movie suggestions).

A deep-rooted West Seattle tradition had a role in the event too – the West Seattle Hi-Yu Festival, more than 80 years strong, with leaders Jay and Joanne Murray speaking before bringing up some of Hi-Yu’s young representatives, including the first-ever Ambassadors. As they mentioned, Hi-Yu’s next Junior Court will be crowned during the monthly meeting Monday night at Admiral UCC (7 pm).

Then, there was a taste of the West Seattle arts. The young singers of Endolyne Children’s Choir sang holiday traditions under the direction of Amy Stagno Bokanev, as they do each year:

ArtsWest brought Frederick Hagreen, who’ll be in an upcoming After-Hours holiday cabaret show:

Jay Cates and the Big Boss Band played jazzy versions of holiday favorites, featuring Kate Voss (with a few jokes as well as a cameo). A high-school marching band as an opening act has become a fixture, and this year it was the West Seattle High School Band:

Finally, minus celebrity guests or gimmicks, the tree was lit, with Josh Sutton leading everybody in a big spirited countdown (here’s our alternate version, from mid-crowd):

The lights twinkled on cue, and the crowd began to shift, many posing for photos with the tree:

(Thanks to Jeff Long for that photo of Schmitz Park Elementary students with the newly lit tree.)

As Jack Menashe described it, West Seattle can be like a small town in a big city … even as it grows. Next year, look for more new neighbors in Junction Plaza Park enjoying the old-fashioned fun of a tree lighting. Extra-Christmasy with “Santa Al” on hand – umbrella and all:

P.S. The Junction’s Hometown Holidays celebration continues next week, when Shop Late Thursday coincides with the holiday edition of the West Seattle Art Walk – featuring carolers! – 6-9 pm December 10th.

(As always, we disclose when we mention WSB sponsors. Three are mentioned in the story above – West Seattle YMCA, Hotwire Online Coffeehouse, and Menashe and Sons Jewelers. And WSB is a sponsor of Hometown Holidays.)

5 Replies to "VIDEO: West Seattle Junction Tree Lighting illuminates community for new arrivals and oldtimers alike"

  • Dennis Hinton December 5, 2015 (9:23 pm)

    Great community tradition. Great coverage.

  • JoB December 6, 2015 (7:26 am)

    i don’t know if you know how much these pictures mean to those of us who can’t be there

  • Al December 6, 2015 (8:33 am)

    Very well done, So Good

  • Kathleen L December 6, 2015 (8:09 pm)

    Thanks for the great coverage of this fun annual tradition! It was such a tribute to our community to see so many folks out having a great time despite the weather. I wanted to note that the link for the Endolyne Children’s Choir is incorrect. The website is at

    • WSB December 6, 2015 (8:36 pm)

      Sorry ’bout that! Fixing.

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