Photos by Danielle Chastaine: Children try to catch snowflakes at Magnolia Gardens during Winterfest on Saturday, Dec. 1.
Photos by Danielle Chastaine: Children try to catch snowflakes at Magnolia Gardens during Winterfest on Saturday, Dec. 1.

The group standing at Magnolia Gardens waiting for the large Christmas tree to be lit couldn’t help but sing along with a local Girls Scout troop as they caroled “Jingle Bells” from the small stage near the tree.

It was like a scene out of a holiday movie, as parents lifted their children onto their shoulders and friends sang the old song together.

The tree was lit by 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, and it began to “snow,” thanks to a hidden machine on the Magnolia Garden’s roof.

All the fun was just part of the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Winterfest, which is the unofficial kick off the holiday shopping season in the neighborhood.

Chamber business members opened their doors Saturday evening and hosted a bevy of holiday activities. Children made gingerbread houses, sat on Santa’s lap, drank hot chocolate and played in fake snow while their parents began buying gifts and creating holiday shopping lists.

Magnolia Chamber of Commerce executive director Jason Thibeaux said watching the children enjoy themselves is his favorite part of Winterfest.

“This is a way to get families out and show them this is a great place to hang out,” Thibeaux said. “I just love the wide eyes of the kids. I love seeing families out here having fun.”

The most popular event at Winterfest is the photos with Santa Claus at Windermere; the line wrapped around the block.

Winterfest is hosted exclusively by the chamber and one of the organization’s biggest event. During Winterfest the chamber sold raffle tickets for prizes that included a month of unlimited classes at the American Dance Institute, a restaurant gift card to Highliner Pub, tickets to the Pacific Science Center and tickets to the Woodland Park Zoo.

All the money from the ticket sales supports the chamber and the next year’s Winterfest.

Thibeaux said it takes multiple sponsors and manpower to put on Winterfest each year. Thousands of Magnolia neighbors and visitors shopped the Village on Saturday, which Thibeaux said is the goal of the fest.

“Any time you spend dollars in your community, it has a multiplying effect,” Thibeaux said. “You hire workers to work here, they eat lunch locally and they get their prescriptions here because it’s close. It’s a great way of building the idea of community.”

Thibeaux said events like Winterfest help bring the community together.

“You see your neighbors while standing in line,” he said. “You may catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while. It helps build community.”