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Cookie Trail, Tree Lighting, Car Parade, Plush Glowing Whale Part of Oregon Coast's Florence Holiday

Published 11/20/23 a 5:15 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cookie Trail, Tree Lighting, Car Parade, Plush Glowing Whale Part of Oregon Coast's Florence Holiday

(Florence, Oregon) – Visits from Santa and the Mrs., a cookie trail, lighted car parade, tree lighting, and hunting for a glowing, plush whale toy: that and more are all part of a unique celebration of the holiday season in one central Oregon coast town. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Florence puts on its Celebrate The Season By The Sea set of events starting this week, going from November 25 through December 2.

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What they call Oregon's Coastal Playground gets rather elaborate with Celebrate The Season By The Sea, which happens in various parts. First, are the Shop Small Saturday and Cookie Trail on November 25. Following that is the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, a lighted car parade, and the annual mayor’s tree lighting ceremony on December 2.

It's a one-stop spot for recreation, holiday cheer, shopping, food and lovely places to stay – over two weekends.

“There is nowhere better to celebrate the season than by the sea in Florence,” said Mitzi Hathaway, festival organizer and the Chamber’s director for tourism development.

Follow the cookie trail to find great buys on unique gifts from Florence's locally-owned ‘Mom and Pop’ shops, check out local galleries, and dig into an amazing diversity of food as they celebrate Shop Small Saturday on November 25.

Then, the following Saturday, December 2, Florence folks will revel in an evening of cars, carols and the Clauses. That takes place from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Bay Street in Historic Old Town.

There's a special e-gift card aspect to this as well, which could allow you to do some shopping online while you're not on the Oregon coast.

“And remember to shop locally with a FLOCAL e-gift card to keep the cash flowing locally in Florence,” said Florence Area Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Bettina Hannigan.

Details are available at

Could you ever imagine the holidays with a slight Exploding Whale twist?

Flo the glowing plush whale

It can only happen here in Florence, with Flo, the 18-inch plush whale that makes cute sounds and lights up. No, it's not a direct reference to Florence's dynamite mishap – and this whale is simply adorable and not in an explosive state – but there's a nod.

Beginning November 24 and continuing through December 23 shoppers can search for Flo. She will be in dozens of participating stores, galleries, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops all over town. Flo’s fans can follow a treasure map to get stickers, prizes, discounts, coupons, treats, or a raffle ticket for a chance to win that proprietor’s Flo. Each stop along the map will offer something unique to that location. Maps will be available beginning November 23 at the Chamber’s visitor center, 290 Highway 101, or online at

On December 2, the popular lighted car cruise and parade returns this year to Bay Street at 4:00 p.m. The cruise will be preceded by a lit balloon giveaway, free hayrides on Bay Street, and photos at the Celebrate the Season by the Sea backdrop, while DJ Al Rojas plays holiday favorites through the tree lighting event. The annual mayor’s tree lighting with singing takes place at 5:30 p.m. at the Siuslaw River Interpretive Center. Immediately following will be photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus along with live music by violinist Robbie Dee at the gazebo near Laurel and Bay Streets. Many shops will stay open until 7:00 p.m. or later.

Courtesy photo from Florence

When it comes to the cruise, all kinds of entries are encouraged: rom cars and trucks to ATVs and golf carts, towed watercraft, or large commercial vehicles - and must have holiday lights and décor on all sides. Applications are available through the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce. Awards will be given to the best commercial and non-commercial entries.

“Anchoring the parade will be Mr. and Mrs. Claus who will hand out candy canes to all the kids. “Then the public will gather around the town tree at the Siuslaw River Interpretive Center at 5:30 as Mayor Rob Ward flips the switch to illuminate the magic of the season,” said Hathaway.

The two-weekend event is sponsored by Sea Lion Caves and hosted by the City of Florence and the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce. To sign up for and enter the lighted car parade, or for more information on any of the Florence Holiday Festival activities, contact Mitzi Hathaway at or 541-997-3128, ext. 2.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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