Catch the Magic at the Mill before the lights go out


Catch the Magic at the Mill before the lights go out

3:27 p.m. PST December 20, 2015

Thousands of people go to the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem each December to see more than 275,000 lights for the Magic at the Mill event.

This year has been no different. Hundreds of families and individuals went this weekend, while others have the opportunity to still go if they do so before 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

In addition to the lights, including a sheep that jumps over the river, there are vendors, historic demonstrations, live musicians, craft rooms and more. Santa Claus even takes time out of his busy schedule to stop by.

On opening night, the line for tickets wrapped around the entrance building.

Trena Vandehey went Saturday night with her husband, Kurtis, and their two sons, Conner, 5, and Cayden, 7, who had not attended previously.

The two kids were sporting the holiday glasses they were given when they entered.

They were looking forward to seeing Santa since they had missed him at other venues but also wanted to see the lights.

Cayden liked the blue lights best, whereas Conner liked the lights over the bridge.

The Salem family said they were excited for Christmas.

“It’s Christmas,” Trena said. “The kids love Christmas and it’s so much fun.”

She had been to the event before, but was eager to share it with the rest of her family.

Bob Reinhardt, who has been executive director for the Willamette Heritage Center for about seven months, said he was excited for his first Magic at the Mill.

Saturday’s weather provided a welcoming atmosphere for attendees to walk around and see the lights, participate in the activities and watch the entertainment, though there was some drizzle outside. Reinhardt said organizers started bringing more events indoors last year to keep people warmer.

Last year was a slow year, he said, but more than 4,000 people attended. The event began in 2000.

Since he has a 4-year-old and 2-year-old, Reinhardt said, he was especially looking forward to playing with the model train with his kids., (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate or

If you go

The event runs Dec. 19-23 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.. Members and children ages 3 and under are free. Adults are $6 and youth ages 4-12 are $4.

For more information, go to or call (503) 585-7012.

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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