Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Latest issue

Pastega light display reflects community memories in its potential final season

Hayden Lohr
Pastega Christmas display at the Benton County Events Center 110 SW 53rd St. Corvallis on Nov. 28, 2023.

With donations from the Pastega Family Fund the Corvallis Community has been able to keep the Pastega Christmas Light Display open for over 40 years. 

Through rain, freezing temperatures, snow storms and Christmas tree thieves, the Pastega Christmas Light Display in Corvallis has held strong since 1981. However, in light of organizer Ken Pastega needing new leadership for the event, community members are saddened by the possibility of it closing after this season. 

“My favorite thing about the lights is seeing the wonder and excitement on kids’ faces,” said Dana Strowbridge, a volunteer at the lights for 10 years. She said that she still receives responses from parents wanting their children to have the same childhood memories.

It’s not just children that have made memories for themselves at the display. Strowbridge fondly remembers the different events that she witnessed at the lights display and said that it’s a way to contribute to the community. 

“We’ve had post-wedding pictures and an engagement performed at the display and the children’s Christmas Fair participants would get to walk through afterward; It’s a happy place,” Strowbridge said. 

For many, this display has been a childhood memory. Thomas Koch, a third-year mechanical engineering student at Oregon State University, grew up going to see the lights each year. He said that the nostalgia of returning to a childhood memory is one of his favorite parts of the display.

“I know that there are many little kids out there just like me who want to see the lights every year and are going to be very disappointed about the display closing,” Koch said. “I’ve even thought about taking my own kids there one day and I hope that someone is able to start it back up in the near future.”

Denisse Montoya, a second-year human development and family sciences major, grew up with the lights as well. 

“I remember going as a kid, when they were at a different location and being scared of ET,” Montoya said. “When we went last year, my friend saw it for the first time and was scared. I just thought it was silly and loved how we both experienced it at different times.”

Haley McKennon, a second-year nutrition major, stumbled across the display this year while driving through Corvallis with a friend.

“It’s just a place for the community to start enjoying some Christmas spirit,” McKennon said. “It helps so much by bringing holiday joy to the community, and allowing those to help with the canned food drive as well.”

The event is free to the public but does ask for food drive donations. With the help of five different food banks around Benton County, the community has provided 7,500 pounds of food annually through the light display according to Strowbridge. 

Another OSU student, Tanner Jackson, experienced the lights for the first time this year as well. As a first-year student, he hadn’t heard of them until a mutual friend mentioned it.

“My favorite thing about the lights are that they are free to view and a safe and fun way to enjoy the holidays,” Jackson said. 

Hannah Christison, a fourth-year psychology major grew up in Corvallis and has gone to the lights for much of her life. 

“One of my favorite memories was my dad making a big thermos of hot chocolate and piling all of us into the car. I was ten years old and he let me sit in his lap and steer the car (with his help) through the display,” Christison wrote in an email. 

Christison said that she has volunteered at the lights in the past. She has seen the impact that it has on the community and understands how much it really means to Corvallis. 

“When it was announced that this was the last year, my mom messaged me, ‘WE HAVE TO SAVE IT!’” Christison wrote. “I think it’s a symbol of the last remaining parts of what Corvallis used to be. A lot of Corvallis traditions have ended over recent years and this was one of the few left standing.”

The display opened on Nov. 24 and will run through Dec. 31 from 5 – 10 p.m. every evening. It is located at 110 SW 53rd St. 

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