Sumner events can make city noteworthy

Wow! Since the Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse added fireworks to their bridge lighting tradition, attendance at the holiday extravaganza has grown from around 500 to an estimated 4,000 visitors who come to ring in the holiday season in Sumner. And most of that growth has happened in the last two years.

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Wow! Since the Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse added fireworks to their bridge lighting tradition, attendance at the holiday extravaganza has grown from around 500 to an estimated 4,000 visitors who come to ring in the holiday season in Sumner. And most of that growth has happened in the last two years.

Now I can quote you statistics and facts about the event, like the sponsor is the Old Cannery, there is a processional immediately following the lights and fireworks that travels from the bridge to Windmill Gardens at the east end of town, there is a garden lighting ceremony at Windmill and lots of refreshments and music for sing-alongs and photos with Santa, etc. But if you are wearing your downtown director hat, like I do at events, this kind of attendance is enough to make you drool.

To set the stage, I can usually be found downtown at events with a camera in my hand or in a conversation with a local reporter. I truly love promoting Sumner and telling folks why it’s such a great place to “spend some time”. But to be downtown at night, in November, and see thousands of people with their children, spouses and friends, walking on the sidewalks, shopping in the stores, waiting in lines to eat at local restaurants, well that just about brings a tear to my eye. For me, seeing the sidewalks full of people at night, stopping to point out interesting things in the windows and popping into stores to get a closer look, reminds me of being in Disneyland. Why do so many people go there and keep returning? I can assure you it’s not an accident. Disney folks are very strategic about managing the theme parks to evoke certain feelings and emotions that hook you and keep you coming back. It’s clean. It’s safe. It’s fun. It’s charming. It’s nostalgic and futuristic. It’s high tech and old fashioned. It smells good and has good food, too. You can walk or you can take transportation. It’s close to sleeping quarters but has its own downtown core and activities.

This also describes Sumner. And I can guarantee you, it’s not an accident that our town has these attributes. Like Disneyland, there are literally hundreds of folks constantly working to provide and maintain a downtown like ours. But here’s the kicker. There’s no gate into Sumner where you’re being charged over $100 to “come on in” and enjoy. Thanks to the commitment of our city, local council, businesses, community organizations and hundreds of volunteers, much of Sumner’s local charm and fun is available at no charge.

So to the Old Cannery and Windmill Gardens, the mayor, council, police, fire department, public works and everyone else who was part of entertaining our community with lights and fireworks, I’m putting in a good word for you with Santa. I hope he brings you something just as spectacular as this year’s event was.




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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
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