By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News
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From Forks to Port Angeles to Sequim, Blyn and East Jefferson County, residents and business owners have dressed up for the holidays.
Families will want to pile into their cars and explore.
Here are a few recommendations:
The biggest light show on the Peninsula is the glitter of some 1.5 million lights along both sides of U.S. Highway 101 at Blyn, where the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe has dipped the 7 Cedars Casino, tribal offices, Longhouse Market and fire station in electric brilliance.
The annual display is a way to give back to the community, said Jerry Allen, CEO of 7 Cedars Casino and other resort property.
“I couldn't tell you the number of letters and phone calls we get, and that's rewarding,” Allen said.
A tribal elder from California, for instance, said the display was “better than Dollywood,” Allen said.
“Many of our tribal citizens enjoy it as well as other members of the community.”
To view the lights at leisure, pull over at the tribe's Blyn rest stop on Highway 101 between Sequim and Port Townsend, or turn off 101 onto Old Blyn Highway fronting the tribal center, park at the visitor parking lot and walk around the area.
Another way to enjoy the view is to take the walking tunnel under 101 to the east side, where a walking trail allows viewing of the lights from different vantage points, with Sequim Bay as a backdrop.
In Port Angeles, those who want to see homes and businesses dressed in lights can drive around on their own — seeing both private homes and city decorations downtown around the well-lighted city tree at Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain — or leave the driving to All Points Charters & Tours.
The service, operated by Willy Nelson, offers a nightly two-hour tour of Christmas lights every evening through Dec. 28, except Christmas Day, with two such tours Christmas Eve.
Tours begin from the Safeway parking lot at Third and Lincoln streets at 6:30 each evening except Christmas Eve, when tours will begin at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fares are $7.50 for adults, $3.75 for children 6 to 12 and free for children younger than 6.
Reservations may be made by phoning 360-460-7131.
The two Christmas Eve tours will include the one-night display of luminaries on Second Street between Ennis and Chambers streets, said Nelson, who has operated the tour service for seven years.
The whole neighborhood lines three blocks with luminaries, paper bags with candles inside — “assuming the weather is OK,” Nelson said.
He suggested that those who drive though the neighborhood on their own drive with parking lights only to keep from diminishing others' view.
Among the highlights is “the biggest display in the city” at Kent and Kari Osterberg's home at 1521 O St.
Upper Cherry Hill also is beautiful this year, Nelson said, and Ninth Street between A and B streets is “another street that's really cool.
“A number of houses have lights. It's quite spectacular,” he said.
The tour also offers some surprises.
“When you ride with me, you go to places where you'd never guess there were any lights,” Nelson said.
Those driving into downtown Sequim from U.S. Highway 101 will find all the light poles on Sequim Avenue wrapped like candy canes, said Emily Westcott, board member and special projects manager for the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce.
At the Bank of America Park at the southeast corner of the Sequim Avenue-Washington Street intersection, some 10,000 to 15,000 lights blaze, with one feature looking like a blue waterfall.
Just north across Washington Street is the city Christmas tree, arrayed in 2,800 multicolored lights.
Nearby merchants participate with their own displays.
“Downtown Sequim's really cool,” Westcott said.
Among the private homes and businesses, a place on Hendrickson Road between Kendall Road and Fifth Avenue really stands out, she added.
The house, barn, yard and trees are all decorated.
“It's a big one,” she said.
Port Townsend, Port Hadlock
A highlight in Port Townsend this year is the Vintage Hardware and Lighting building, owned by Ken Kelly, at 2000 Sims Way.
The area around 19th Street and Discovery Road in Port Townsend is well-decorated every year.
Also impressive this year is a display on Lopez Avenue across from Blue Heron Middle School, as well as several displays in Port Hadlock and Irondale.
South Jefferson County
South Jefferson County always blazes with lights for Christmas.
The 7-acre Whitney Gardens and Nursery at 306264 U.S. Highway 101 in Brinnon always has a massive holiday display — and it appears to be the standard by which other exhibits in the county are judged.
Tom Brotherton, an organizer of the Quilcene Conversations decorating contest, referred to it when describing the decorations on a drive-through Christmas display in Quilcene created on the Josephine Campbell building owned by Chuck Thrasher, the Quilcene Habitat for Humanity Store, The Plaid Pepper and the Brett and Ashley Hoffman residence at 294955 U.S. Highway 101.
“It's really over the top,” Brotherton said.
“It's almost as good as Whitney Gardens in Brinnon.”
The drive-through is open every day from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Jan. 1, according to the North Hood Canal Chamber of Commerce website at http://tinyurl.com/bt432vj.
Drivers enter just past the Habitat driveway and end at The Plaid Pepper, where cocoa, cider and cookies are available for purchase on the weekends, including Fridays, the chamber said, adding that proceeds will benefit local charities.
Probably 50,0000 lights glow in the display, said Ann Ricker of Quilcene, an artist who served as one of the judges in the Quilcene Conversations decorating contest.
The contest was confined to commercial buildings on Highway 101, Brotherton said.
Two prizes will be awarded: for the best-decorated building and for the best Quilcene decoration, defined as “what's in the best style of Quilcene,” Brotherton said.
The prizes will be $100 each, given to a local charity of the winner's choice, with display plaques.
The winners will be announced Jan. 9 at a monthly community potluck at 6 p.m. and movie at 7 p.m. at the Quilcene Community Center.
Brotherton recommends that drivers coming from the north tour the Quilcene lights by starting at the Quilcene Village Store on Highway 101 — which he manages — past Henery's Hardware store, traveling down to Jean's Liquor Store and then the South County Medical Clinic before arriving at the Josephine Campbell building display.
Forks, West End
The Hungry Bear Cafe at Milepost 206 on Highway 101 in Beaver went all-out this Christmas.
“They did a fabulous job,” said Marcia Bingham, director of the Forks Chamber of Commerce.
“It's almost startling when you're coming down the highway and see all these lights,” she said.
In Forks, the Terra Eden and Sherwood Forest subdivisions draw visitors, Bingham said.
“Driving down Klahndike Boulevard, there are lots of lights.”
Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.