MURRIETA: Christmas trees and the push cart parade – Press-Enterprise (blog)

A float in the 2012 push cart parade / FILE PHOTO

A float in the 2012 push cart parade / FILE PHOTO

Murrieta officials have decided to focus holiday festivities this December at Town Square Park, culminating the push-cart parade there against a backdrop of choirs, crafts and concert.

There is also talk of a holding a tree-lighting ceremony to decorate a living Christmas tree that would become a permanent fixture in the park.

The Murrieta City Council voted 5-0 on Tuesday, Sept. 3, to approve a plan for the celebration. In doing so, the council sought to put to rest a rumor going around town that the city was canceling the Holiday Magic Push Cart Parade.

For the parade, which debuted in 2004, participants make lit floats and push or pull them along the parade route. But participation has been lagging in recent years.

And the city asked council members Randon Lane and Alan Long to look into ways to boost it and other events.

“Our push cart parade seemed to lack a little direction,” Lane said, in a telephone interview Friday, Sept. 6.

But never, he said, was there a proposal on the table to axe the parade.

That’s not what Margaret Jones heard.

“I had heard that they were thinking about letting  it go,” said the owner of a Murrieta travel agency. Concerned, Jones ran down to a City Council meeting Aug. 20 to plea to preserve the parade.

“It’s rather unique,” she told council members. “It’s something no other city has and never will have.”

In any event, city officials say the parade will go forward. Lane said it likely will run south along Washington Avenue from Nutmeg Street, then east along B Street to the park.

At Town Square, parade goers will be able to switch gears and take in other activities. According to a staff report, there will be a concert featuring a professional group, carols sung by church choirs, and a craft village offering face painting and pictures with Santa Claus.

A Festival of Trees is to feature a display of 50 six-foot-tall cut Christmas trees lining the park’s interior loop road.

Besides that, there are plans to light one big tree in the middle of it all.

Lane said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Murrieta Stake, has offered to donate a pine to plant at the park and spotlight year after year. It’s not clear, he said, whether the tree will be in place by this season or whether the city will need a temporary stand-in.

But, Lane said, “We will have a tree-lighting ceremony.”

As for the smaller trees, at the conclusion of festivities they will be donated to families who can’t afford to purchase holiday trees, he said.

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