The Victorian Carolers sang Sisters into the holiday season at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. photo by Jerry Baldock
The Victorian Carolers sang Sisters into the holiday season at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. photo by Jerry Baldock

The City of Sisters kicked off the most wonderful time of the year with the 15th annual Christmas tree lighting in Fir Street Park. The weather outside was frightful, but that didn't keep people from turning out to celebrate the onset of the Christmas season.

This American holiday tradition continues to bring residents together to share in a message of hope and peace. It's part of getting into the Christmas spirit, getting the kids involved and watching the Sisters community gather together.

Sisters Mayor Chuck Ryan got the festivities rolling by thanking the City for all their hard work this year, the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce for continuing to make Sisters the go-to destination for Central Oregon, and the public works department for stringing up 1,600 bulbs on the live Christmas tree.

Jerry Buckmann, Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce events director, asked the crowd if they've seen the Capitol Christmas tree this year.

"The Capitol Christmas tree stopped in Bend and drove through Sisters. It was a pretty awesome sight and we should be proud that Oregon is going to be part of Christmas back in our nation's capital," she said.

A popular custom is to bless the Christmas tree before lighting. Troy Meeder, co-founder of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch (CPYR), took the honors. CPYR is founded on hope, it is a place where broken children, horses and families can find wholeness, belonging and trust. Meeder oversees all CPYR ministry.

Four performers from The Victorian Carolers, a professional a cappella group who performs in period costume from Central Oregon, began the festivities with the classic Christmas song, "Oh Come All Ye Faithful."

Director of the group Steve Osterkamp has been a professional singer for 20 years. He has an extensive background singing with holiday quartets.

"We have a group of about 12 this season, but I work with about four singers at a time. We are all classical trained singers," Osterkamp said. "We all love singing in Sisters. It has such a close-knit community feel, and you don't find that everywhere."

The ceremony closed with The Victorian Carolers crooning the classic Christmas hymn, "Silent Night," and following a short countdown, the tall live tree at the east side of the park sparkled with lights. The crowd cheered as they walked over to see the glistening bright white lights while taking photos of family in front of the magnificent Sisters community Christmas tree.