by Staff Writer
Hundreds from the Rainier Beach community and Rainier Valley came out to walk the streets of Rainier Beach to celebrate and vote on best displays and hospitality during the First Annual Light Up the Beach Holiday Challenge.
11 locations competed for prizes throughout Rainier Beach Square – mostly small, local-family owned businesses, along with 9 local artists and community groups.
One of the highlights was an opportunity to meet Santa (who is also a member of Rainier Beach Ready Emergency Hub). Each family went home with a free holiday photo by local photographer Derek Johnson commemorating what was often the first encounter of recent immigrants with American Santa.
Best Hospitality: Merrill & Merrill Insurance
Best Promotion of Peace: Artist Anne Harrington & Seattle Juggling and Magic Shop
Best Global Theme: Rainier Beach Safeway, Rainier Beach United Methodist Church Boy Scouts & Rainier Beach Ready Emergency Hub Under the direction of Artist Mary Magenta
Best Overall Display: Rainier Dance Center
Additionally, 12 gift cards were donated by participating businesses for a drawing of people who voted.
This inclusive event was produced by the Rainier Beach Merchants Association, and sponsored by the Rainier Beach Merchants Association, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, and Rainier Beach Safeway with the purpose of better connecting the community to local businesses, and helping to improve safety and “ownership” in the community by encouraging pedestrian activity on local streets, particularly at night.