Workers installed a Greyhound sign atop the portal in The Commons development in downtown Medford this past week in time for tonight’s Winter Lights Festival. - Julia Moore

Medford readies festival's new site for opening night

Medford's newest park and downtown attraction will open to great fanfare tonight during the Winter Lights Festival tree-lighting at The Commons.

Workers scrambled to install the remaining landscaping and decorate the trees Friday.

"It's a beautiful centerpiece for Medford," said Rick Deckelman of City Lights of Ashland. "Medford's always lacked something like this."

Most of the festivities will be in Pear Blossom Park, which is actually two parks of more than a half-acre each located between Fourth and Sixth streets along Bartlett Street.

The newly planted trees will be lighted at 6 tonight.

Deckelman and City Lights owner Kevin Huggins promised the lighting ceremony will avoid the foibles of Clark Griswold in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

"They've got plenty of power to make this work," Huggins said.

He said the small trees on either side of the park will have blinking lights, but the main fir trees on the north end of the park will be strands of non-blinkling LEDs.

Other activities at the park will include photo opportunities with Santa Claus, a candy cane hunt and marshmallow roast and food vendors. The festivities will start at 3:30 p.m.

Other workers have been cleaning up the park and running wires through conduits to make sure the sound and lighting systems are operational.

When Medford opened the first park just to the south and next to Lithia Motors' headquarters, it received complaints there weren't enough electrical outlets. Many of those concerns have been addressed as well as complaints about the lack of drinking fountains, city officials said. Now there's a bright orange drinking fountain in each park.

Workers have pressure-washed all the hard surfaces, blasting off some graffiti that popped up next to the stairs leading to the field.

Crews will continue to work on the park after the tree-lighting ceremony. The neon-lit Greyhound sign on the portal wasn't expected to be illuminated in time for the lighting ceremony.

As the Medford Urban Renewal Agency closes in on one of its major achievements, neighbor Sam Jennings Co. nearby faces potential code violations by the city.

Elaine Reisinger, daughter of the family patriarch, Sam Jennings, said the Jennings family is bracing for the fix-it list from the city, which might include replacing sidewalks.

She said the business will be tidied up in the coming days. "I think we're going to power-wash the building," she said.

The business started in 1923, eventually moving to the distinctive white building often referred to as the "Alamo" at the corner of Fourth Street and North Riverside Avenue.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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