PORT TOWNSEND — Holiday decorating is in full swing in anticipation of this weekend’s events in the county, including the arrival of Santa on Saturday at ceremonies at Haller Fountain and in Quilcene.
The Quilcene Community Tree Lighting will begin at 4 p.m. near the post office with a holiday group sing. Cookies and apple cider will be served and Santa will stop by for photos and chats with children.
To set the mood in Port Townsend, holiday caroling performed by the Wild Rose Chorale will be heard throughout town from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Denise Winter, artistic director of Key City Public Theater, will serve as mistress of ceremonies at Port Townsend’s event beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Actors from the theater will perform a sketch from their holiday program, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told,” which is running through Dec. 28 and which will be joined as a holiday show this season by performances of “Spirit of the Yule” beginning Thursday.
Mayor Deborah Stinson will offer a holiday welcome. Santa will arrive via the Kiwanis Choo-Choo, with an able crew on hand to assist him.
A special “Winter Window” display is taking shape at 823 Washington St., across the street from the fountain. As the days wind down to Christmas, the window and what’s inside gradually will be transformed to reveal a special surprise, organizers said.
December’s Gallery Walk takes place on Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m. and most stores will stay open until 8 p.m.
At the center of Port Townsend’s celebration is an 18-foot grand fir that will be illuminated when Santa throws the switch at 4:50 p.m.
This year’s tree has a special history attached to it. Donated by Ron and Kathy Ryan, the fir was grown on their property in Port Townsend.
“We planted this tree at our new property in 2005,” said Kathy Ryan. “It was two feet tall and we got it from the Jefferson County Conservation District tree sale.
“We planted it, and it liked its location. We built a barn close to it, but it kept getting bigger and bigger and eventually blocked the door to the barn.”
The Ryans knew they would have to cut the tree down but didn’t want it to go to waste.
“It’s such a beautiful tree, with such a good shape. It really looked like the perfect Christmas tree,” she said.
The couple contacted the city to find out if their fir would be a candidate for the community tree.
Bre Ganne, parks lead operator for the city, said she looked it over and determined it was the perfect size with great form.
“It was easy to access with our truck and was easy to cut. It was a fun experience for our crew to go get a Christmas tree for the town,” Ganne said.
“We put in call to other city employees and they came down to help us get it into the stand.”
Ganne said the team did this during Monday’s windstorm, battling gusts upward of 50 mph, which made it “lots of fun.”
Volunteers from the Main Street program adorned the fir with lights and decorations Wednesday.
Ganne said finding large trees for municipalities is somewhat difficult, and officials had been getting them from a tree farm in Seabeck, paying $100 or more.
Ron Ryan was happy to make this gesture to the community.
“I’m hoping that this will generate more interest in donating a tree instead of going to Shelton or Belfair to buy a a tree,” he said. “This is a lot easier for them.”
Ganne said the city seeks any type of fir, about 15-20 feet tall that seems balanced and shaped well for the community holiday tree.
It should measure 6 ½ inches around at chest height in order to fit into holder.
The Ryan’s tree will be removed Jan 2. The parks department will do all of the un-decorating and clean up, and dispose of the tree at the compost facility.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]