Lights and 'Winter Magic' good cheer in Mount Shasta

Lauren Steinheimer
Children in the audience were invited to join the choir and sing Christmas carols after the tree was lit Friday night in downtown Mount Shasta.

Downtown Mount Shasta was booming with holiday cheer as locals and visitors gathered for family fun and gift shopping during Friday’s Winter Magic Festival.

Festivities kicked off with the second annual Reindeer Run 5k, which city manager Paul Eckert said grew from 30 runners in 2014 to 130 this year. The day concluded with the tree lighting ceremony and a visit from Santa Claus.

Santa hats, antlers and ugly Christmas sweaters decorated the herd of runners as they congregated at the Reindeer Run starting line.

The spirit of friendly competition was palpable before the race started, as awards were given out for the most festive costumes and hideously tacky sweaters.

The best dressed participants, including a trio of snow ladies complete with carrot-orange noses, won gift certificates donated by Lilys restaurant.

Most runners dressed up, and everyone seemed to be having a great time as the fun run wound through the city streets and Shastice Park. Entire families ran together, including dogs on leashes and kids in strollers.

Following the run, events throughout the day included street vendors selling hot soups and drinks, a choir of carolers, performances by Siskiyou Dance Company and a gift wrapping station.

The 400 block of South Mount Shasta Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic and shops stayed open past normal hours for holiday shopping.

“The Winter Magic Festival appeared to draw a steady crowd of 300 to 500 people with a large crowd of 600 for the lighting event,” Eckert wrote in an email. “It will take a few weeks to get revenue impacts, however, it was clear that most of the businesses had many visitors.”

Before leading the estimated crowd of 600 people in a countdown to the tree lighting, Mount Shasta Mayor Jeffrey Collings noted this year was the biggest turnout he’s seen.

The great mass of people huddled together before the giant Christmas tree and enjoyed carols. Kids entertained themselves with bright, flashy toys and waited for Santa to arrive.

After the tree was lit, a fire truck escorted by elves made it’s way down Mount Shasta Boulevard and dropped Santa off at his awaiting sleigh parked in front of the police department. Kids lined up around the corner to sit on his lap and share their Christmas wishes.

“There are a lot of folks to thank and recognize for the success of the event,” Eckert noted.

He commended the Winter Magic Festival committee headed by Chamber of Commerce Director Jim Mullins for an outstanding job coordinating the event over the past few months.

“The city and district fire departments worked tirelessly on their personal time to ensure that the Santa Claus event was very special for families and the kids. The public works and police departments were very busy with both events. The ‘Bears Committed’ high schoolers worked throughout the cold day selling hot chocolate. The group’s fund raising proceeds go toward fighting drug and alcohol abuse and supporting needy families,” Eckert wrote.