Christmas in Portland – 100 Santas, Chewbacca and the Church of Elvis

I love downtown Portland at Christmas time. It has a wonderfully festive feel, even on a rainy winter day so of course we had to make a special weekend trip if only to see the big Christmas tree. It was going to be tough to beat the 2012 best pre-christmas family day ever, but we were up for the challenge.

We originally planned to catch the train into the city but decided at the last minute that taking the car would be a better option in the (only slightly pouring) rain. Still, the boys got dressed for a potentially chilly walk around town.

First stop: Pioneer Place mall. We had hoped to catch the fake snow show but missed it by about 25 minutes, so we had to make do with a taking a few self-portraits with the help of some massive Christmas tree ornaments.

We then stepped outside where we were handed some free Ghiardelli Christmas chocolate samples and then looked up to see about of 50 Santa’s helpers walking down the street.

Some were a little more authentic than others…

..while some checked their cell phones while traveling behind robot santa-type creatures on a mobile fireplace. None of this is made up.

The kids gleefully accepted unexpected presents from the “Santas” – a couple of matchbox cars, a ball toy and some candy canes.

Then, as happens every day in our fair city, we walked a few more meters up the street and were greeted by Chewbacca and a few storm troopers.

It’s amazing how sworn enemies can set aside their differences at this time of the year.


Then it was on to the Christmas tree – an annual Ishida viewing tradition (although not the tree lighting. We did that once and it’s was insanely crowded).

And what’s a Christmas Tree without a little Nutcracker entertainment from some enthusiastic kids who are not afraid to dance in the freezing rain?

Next, we took a detour to Peet’s for some chrismassy beverages.

Thomas decided to crumble his Candy Cane into his hot chocolate with Samuel declared to be THE BEST IDEA EVER!

We then took a shortcut through an arcade/timewarp to visit Finnegan’s toystore. Thomas sneakily chose a gift for Samuel (Santa will have to take the very same gift out of his toy bag).

And then it was time to walk back to the car as the rainfall started to get heavier and heavier.

Even the umbrella man statue was finding it tough to stay dry.

And that was almost it – another fabulous pre-christmas Portland adventure…

…topped only by a last-minute decision to go out for sushi with friends where we, again, bumped into the Santas. Only by this time there were more of them and they had 6 hours of drinking under their belt. Thankfully the kids didn’t ask too many questions so I was able to avoid thinking about the potential loss of innocence.

Finally, we made a quick stop at the 24 hour Church of Elvis coin operated art gallery before heading home to watch Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol.

Not exactly a traditional end to a Christmas day in the city, but that’s why I love Portland. In the words of Forrest Gump – “It’s like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.”


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