By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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From the 12th annual Whitney Gardens and Nursery light show in Brinnon to enthusiastic, holiday-spirited residents in Forks, there are holiday lights to be seen everywhere on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Always unusual, Port Townsend's displays are especially worth a trip around town this year, said Karen Anderson, Port Townsend Visitor Center manager.
Anderson said there aren't as many houses lit with a single string or simple lights in Port Townsend this year as in the past — but those who have decorated have gone all out.
“This year, we have a renewed feeling of getting into the spirit,” she said.
Her particular favorite is a maritime-themed yard in the 800 block of McPherson Street, where the homeowners lit up their sailboat, Anderson said.
“It's very Port-Townsendy,” she said.
Another home, at 1530 31st St., evokes the Seattle Seahawks, while a house at 633 19th St. shows Santa exactly where the chimney is.
There is a lot to see after sunset in Port Townsend this time of year, Anderson said.
“We need to get people out after dark. Don't crawl back home,” she said.
Whitney Gardens and Nursery at 306264 U.S. Highway 101 is a traditional bright spot in the holidays.
The 7-acre spread always has a massive holiday light display.
“It's not as big as last year, but it's still a lot of lights,” said Barbara Smith, assistant nursery manager.
The gates are open from 4:30 to 8 each evening through New Year's, Smith said.
The entire tableau is a traffic-stopping sight, she said, and visitors are encouraged to stop inside the gates to drop off canned food to be donated to the Brinnon Food Bank.
The biggest light show on the Peninsula is put on by the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe.
There are more than 1.6 million lights distributed on the quarter-mile-long display along U.S. Highway 101 east of Sequim, the Jamestown Medical Center in Sequim and the Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course at 1965 Woodcock Road.
The lights were installed by Patrick Walker Inc. of Port Orchard.
Walker said he had 14 employees work 12 days to put up the lights for the tribe.
“Their only limit has been their checkbook. And I don't see where that's been too limited,” Walker said.
This is the seventh year Walker has strung lights for the tribe and the first that all the lights are of the LED variety, which lessens the power used to make Blyn glow.
“Because of the LEDs, we've been able to grow their display over the last several years without using any more electricity,” Walker said.
Maintenance, too, is an issue for Walker, who runs a landscaping business for the nine non-holiday months of the year.
Crews travel to Blyn twice a week to make sure all the lights are working properly.
A rest stop pulloff on the north side of the road allows Santa-seekers to get off the road, stop and enjoy the lights from the safety of a sidewalk.
Sequim's main intersection of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street glows thanks to the 25,000 lights strung in bushes, on the city's tree in Bank of America Park and on antique tractors in Centennial Plaza.
Led by coordinator Emily Westcott and funded by donations, the city's lights were hung during the final weekend of November for the holiday season.
In Port Angeles, all of the downtown trees twinkle with white lights that will remain on through the end of winter, and the Port Angeles city tree is lit bright with rainbow lights at the Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain, located at First and Laurel streets.
Individual homes and groupings of neighboring homes with holiday spirit are spread throughout Port Angeles.
Crowd-pleasers includes a long series of individually decorated homes dotting Cherry Street from Third Street to Lauridsen Boulevard and a cluster of neighbors on West Ninth Street between A and B streets whose combined decorations light up the night.
All Points Charters & Tours is offering tours of Christmas lights in the Port Angeles area so light enthusiasts can safely look at the lights rather than the road ahead.
Each trip has been full this year, said Willie Nelson, owner of the tour company.
Many of the “good” lit yards are bigger and better than previous years, Nelson said.
Nelson added that he lost only one house from the tour this year, due to the owners moving, and is always looking for newly decorated homes to add to the route.
There are a few seats remaining on the tour, and additional trips can be added if there are enough reservation requests, he said.
Reservations are required. There is no space for those without reservations.
Fares are $7.50 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 6-15 and free for children 5 and younger.
For reservations and the location of the tour starting point, phone 360-460-7131 or 360-565-1139.
In the West End, brightly lit Christmas scenes can be seen at the Hungry Bear Cafe in Bear Creek, and lights dot homes along Highway 101 all the way into Forks, said Lissy Andros, executive director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce.
In Sappho, a house and barn near the highway are nicely decorated, but drivers should be cautious and watch for elk on the road in that area, Andros said.
Once past Sappho, there are a lot of houses along the way that have eye-catching displays.
“It's a pretty drive all the way into Forks,” she said.
Andros said that once in Forks, the best lights are on Bogachiel Way and Evergreen Loop.
“Bogachiel Way is our premier place for lights,” Andros said.
Christmas light displays also can be seen in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood off Klahndike Boulevard, she added.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie contributed to this report.