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Festival of Lights sees record turnout in Castle Rock

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A band led spectators in Christmas carols during the 4th annual Festival of Lights in Castle Rock on Saturday. This year's turnout has been described as the strongest yet, with an estimated 2,000 residents participating.

Saturday saw a record turnout of close to 2,000 spectators for Castle Rock's annual Festival of Lights.

Begun in 2010 by organizer Stephanie Misner, she said this year's turnout dwarfs the 150-or-so spectators during the first year of the event, and said the growing popularity is in large part thanks to support from local businesses and festival committee members.

"Tonight was awesome," she said. "It was the best year. Every year it gets better."

Because of her impact on the community through the festival, Misner was presented with a plaque by Mayor Paul Helenberg for her contributions, as well as husband and outgoing Cowlitz County Commissioner Jim Misner, who has helped organize the festival and was recognized for his support of projects in the Castle Rock area.

Crowds packed the streets of Downtown Castle Rock during the parade that kicked off the festival, followed by a tree-lighting ceremony, caroling and visits with Santa.

Festival organizer Stephanie Misner (right) receives a plaque from Mayor Paul Helenberg (left) recognizing her contributions both to the event and the community. Misner's husband, Jim Misner, was also recognized for his contributions to the festival and for his last four years of services as a Cowlitz County Commissioner.

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