The In-Person Lighting of Portland’s Public Menorah and Peacock Lane Are Both Back On After Last Year’s Cancellations

The Hanukkah ceremony gets underway Nov. 28 and the Sunnyside neighborhood display gets plugged in Dec. 15.

Slowly but surely, it’s beginning to look a little more like a pre-pandemic holiday season.

A growing number of beloved events that were canceled last year due to skyrocketing COVID-19 case counts are back on in 2021, though pandemic safety precautions are typically in place and virtual versions of some celebrations are being offered in conjunction with in-person activities.

One of the first ceremonies to return is the lighting of Portland’s Public Menorah, hosted by Chabad of Oregon on the first night of Hanukkah, Sunday, Nov. 28. The Pioneer Courthouse Square gathering will feature live music, holiday-themed treats and Dreidel Man—yes, a human-sized, blue spinning top.

In addition to the traditional menorah lighting, an ice carver will create a frozen version of the sacred candelabrum, the combination of fire and ice symbolizing hope and light—a new theme added to the ceremony this year.

“The menorah is a symbol of the power of light, warmth and hope,” Rabbi Motti Wilhelm stated in a press release. “As we continue to struggle with a global pandemic, the message that we each have the power to light a candle is uniquely meaningful.”

Portland’s menorah is one of over 15,000 large public menorahs sponsored by Chabad in more than 100 countries. In Oregon alone, Chabad will organize dozens of Hanukkah events, including a Jewish Heritage Night at the Dec. 2 Blazers game.

To request a Zoom link to the Pioneer Square lighting, RSVP online.

Also refusing to go dark for a second year because of the pandemic is Peacock Lane, one of Portland’s most cherished Yuletide traditions.

Today, the electric attraction’s Facebook page announced that the displays will go up, which means the four-block strip in Sunnyside should be as bright as the Griswold family house once again, and people are welcome to take in the view.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the post stated, “and the residents of Peacock Lane are happy to share that they will be displaying their lights from Dec. 15 to Dec. 31.”

To limit potential exposure to COVID, volunteers will not hand out hot cocoa to spectators and there are no walking-only nights.

When Peacock Lane’s occupants voted to pull the plug for 2020, it marked the first time in eight decades that the display was canceled. The last time that happened was during World War II as a way to ration electricity.