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22-Foot Christmas Tree at Phineas Festival of Lights

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Start the Holiday Season December 3, and bring the whole family to Downtown Banning for the Banning Cultural Alliance’s, Sixth Annual Phineas Festival of Lights in downtown Banning.

This year’s street fair event hours will be from 3 to 8 p.m. and will feature tons of snow for winter fun, with downtown tours, fire truck rides, live entertainment, a craft fair and arts and craft demonstrations, refreshments, and of course a visit from Santa Claus.

The Phineas Festival honors the city’s namesake, an American businessman, financier, and entrepreneur: Phineas T. Banning, wholived from 1830-1885.

Phineas is noted as the father of transportation forging the way with a freighting company through the local stagecoach stops and then on to the Port of Los Angeles.

This route would later become the rail lines next to I-10 most Inland Empire residents have all become accustomed to.

Right off the I-10 in Banning the Phineas Festival of Lights is offered free to the public.

The downtown area will be decorated and live entertainment will take place throughout the event.

Part of the holiday splendor includes a six tier “Decorated Christmas Tree,” a living nativity that the public may take part in; and crafts presented by LifePoint Church.

The tree utilizes over 100 volunteers including, builders, decorators, sound and lighting technicians and a choir of about 50 adults and 20 children.

The tree stands about 22 ft. high and is about 22 ft. wide.

“It takes a full day to construct the big tree and another day to hang the greenery and complete the decorating,” said Robin Coppage spokesperson for the church.

During the Phineas Festival visitors may also choose to tour the historic downtown area on a real fire truck. There will be live entertainment, refreshments, and of course a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

The ever popular “SnowHill” will return this year with tons of snow for event visitors to slide down. “The snow would not have been possible this year without sponsors,” said Williams. Sponsors for the snow this year include: LifePoint Church, State Farm Valerie Menefee, Oak Valley Photography, Haskell’s Real Estate, San Gorgonio Pass Hispanic Chamber and the Fox Theater. The event will culminate with the annual tree-lighting ceremony for the City of Banning, at the Ring of Honor on the corner of Ramsey and San Gorgonio Avenue. The Banning Center for the arts will be featuring artist Don Roth and his famous Kool-Kat collection of paintings.This will also be the last chance to buy raffle tickets for the School houseplayhouse and the drawing will be at 6:45 pm, during the event. “The Sixth Annual Phineas Festival of Lights is a one-day community event celebrating the start of the holiday season,” said Carol Newkirk executive director with the Alliance.

“We invite the community and people from other communities to come together with us and celebrate our community and the upcoming holidays,” she added.

The Banning Cultural Alliance is a volunteer organization whose mission is to provide education and support for art and culture in Banning.

“We are so thankful to the City of Banning and its residents for their continued support in allowing us to provide such events free to the public,” said Newkirk. The Alliance thanks the City of Banning, Bank of America, Bank of Hemet, and the Record Gazette for their generous support.

They also want to thank their partners for this year’s event: Banning Chamber of Commerce, LifePoint Church, Rotary International of Banning, Interact Club of Banning, San Gorgonio Pass Rotary, New Creation Church, Boy Scouts of America.

To find the Phineas Festival, take I-10 to Eighth Street in Banning and follow signs.

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