With the changing of ownership of the Christmas tree property — now Idypark — to Dave and Loie Butterfield, and the resignation of Phyllis Mueller from organizing the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, this year’s event also brings changes.
Chris Perrault, owner of Silver Pines Lodge and Creekstone Inn, is organizing the event this year that will not include the traditional ceremony of a stage of performers.
“The reason it was decided not to have a ceremony as has been done in the past is because Dave Butterfield asked me if I would be in charge of it since Phyllis no longer wished to be involved and when Soroptimist was asked, they no longer wanted to do it either,” Perrault wrote.
“I said I would do it on behalf of [Idyllwild Community Center] if I could make it smaller, shorter and more compact. I felt it needed a new feel which included a much shorter version.”
She said she ran her ideas by Butterfield and the ICC board who agreed.
The event, which will be from 4 to 6:30 p.m. the Saturday following Thanksgiving — Nov. 24 this year — will see the lighting of all the trees on the Idypark property. The exception will be the large Sequoia for years considered the town Christmas tree because that tree has been in distress for years. The Butterfields have brought in experts to care for it.
“There will be singing, but I’m not sure of everyone yet so I hesitate to start committing to things that may change,” Perrault said, but she did add that it will include children singing.
And the traditional fire pit will be set up.
The event will be on and around Idypark. Christmas characters will intermingle with attendees, including Dickens actors. “There will be several small stages but many photo op spots and meandering characters,” said Perrault. “It will be interactive-oriented not performance-oriented.”
At the northeast corner of Highway 243 and North Circle Drive, the Children’s Christmas Tree will be lit. Marge Muir, Emily Pearson and Ray Johnston are paying to have the tree lit, said Muir.
She also said Santa and Mrs. Claus will ride in on an Idyllwild Fire truck to the Village Centre Gazebo where they will take children’s Christmas requests from 1 to 3 p.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. This Soroptimist International of Idyllwild event also will include cookie decorating for the kids, said Soroptimist President Shelley McKay.
Perrault said no booths will be at the tree-lighting event.
The Butterfields, after they bought the property last year, razed the Jo’An’s restaurant — a source of controversy for years because of outside music and other distractions — and returned the property to a park dedicated to first responders and veterans.
Earlier this year, Mueller, “chief of staff” for Mayor Max, Idyllwild’s honorary canine mayor, resigned from leading the annual event because of disagreements with the park owners.
Perrault stated that she volunteered to do the event this year, but invited anyone who wants to lead the event next year to volunteer.