MARYSVILLE — “Merrysville for the Holidays” put in its 24th annual appearance at Comeford Park on Saturday, Dec. 1, and in spite of what Electric Lights Parade announcer and city of Marysville Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew deemed “not rain, but tears of joy” that fell from the sky intermittently throughout the afternoon and evening, the event was drawing crowds well into the night.
Bob Petersen tended the bonfire this year for the Marysville Lions Club, which experienced the slight problem of the weather being almost too good for the occasion.
“Previous years have been a little colder, so we’ve had more people crowded around, but it’s been harder for them to find places at the fire,” Petersen said as he placed more wood on the flames. “This year, though, we’ve had a steady stream of folks come by who have still been quietly appreciative of the warmth.”
The Marysville Kiwanis Club joined Ivar’s and Vinaccio’s among the food vendors by selling hot dogs and hot cocoa to help raise funds for their programs throughout the year, while groups ranging from the United Way of Snohomish County to the Marysville Dog Owners Group set up special holiday backgrounds for “Merrysville for the Holidays” attendees to take photos of their families with their own cameras.
City of Marysville Recreation Coordinator Maryke Burgess noted that the Ken Baxter Community Center’s holiday bazaar recruited 24 vendors, 15 for the inside and nine for the outside, which she described as par for the course.
“We always attract about the same size crowd of quality handmade crafters,” Burgess said. “We get people from the community who attend this event faithfully every year.”
Burgess acknowledged that the day’s dark skies and occasional drizzle depressed its turnout to an estimated 2,500 attendees, down from its usual 3,000, but she touted the nearly two dozen Electric Lights Parade entrants who still showed up and proceeded south on State Avenue from the Marysville Municipal Court to just south of Comeford Park.
“We’re pleased by the number of people who came out even with the weather reports, especially since it held off on pouring down for the most part,” Burgess said. “And, of course, we’re already looking forward to our 25th year next year, which is going to be even more amazing.”
Crafters such as Suzi Parks of Marysville and Angie Whitney of Seattle were effusive in their praise of Burgess’ coordination of the holiday bazaar, as Parks hawked her uniquely unfolding scrapbooks and Whitney showed off her silk art and hand-painted phone covers.
“This is the best-organized show around,” said Whitney, a lifelong painter who took up painting silk scarves just a couple of years ago because “I like seeing my art in people’s hands.”
Jack Lybyer, the Electric Lights Parade’s grand marshall for this year, was also given the honor of lighting the Marysville water tower after the parade. Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring credited Lybyer with helping to kick off “Merrysville for the Holidays” nearly a quarter of a century ago, and Lybyer himself recalled how what was once the Operation Marysville Community Christmas campaign has evolved since its humble beginnings.
“We started with four big brown barrels,” Lybyer said. “Now they’re red and they’re everywhere across town. I never could have imagined that what we helped start would turn into all of this. Christmas is really for kids. If we’re able to help kids have happier Christmases while they’re growing up, they might grow up into better adults.”
Outdoors, Arlington’s Annette Miner supervised son Austin and daughter Alexis as they assembled their own handmade crafts at a Girl Scouts of America booth.
“We just moved to town, so this is our first time at this event,” Annette Miner said. “We didn’t have anything like this back in Shoreline. It’s wonderful for the kids.”
“We’ll be coming here every year from now on,” agreed fellow first-time attendee mom Anya Gardulski.