East Jefferson Fire Rescue Lt. Curt Kilgore

Forks, Port Townsend offer plenty of holiday happenings

Holiday events bookend the North Olympic Peninsula this weekend, with Forks’ Twinkle Light Parade and a decorated tree festival in the West End, and a tree-lighting celebration in Port Townsend.

Santa Claus will pay a visit to Port Townsend on Saturday, while his elves will be busy in LaPush today, hosting a charity dinner to benefit West End children.

In Forks, Twilight fever will take a rest while the community attends to more traditional activities, with a Santa Breakfast, Festival of Trees, Twinkle Light Parade and Moonlight Madness shopping.

Cherish Our Children

The West End weekend of activities starts tonight in LaPush, with a benefit dinner and auction hosted by Cherish Our Children, which raises money to buy gifts for children in Forks and LaPush.

Co-organizers Sharon Penn and Pat Soderlind started the effort eight years ago as a way to make sure “all the kids have something under the tree,” Penn said.

Funds raised from the dinner and live and silent auctions are used to buy gifts, which parents then select, wrap and take home for their families.

Penn said that in 2008, the group provided gifts for 110 families in Forks and 109 families in LaPush.

She anticipates even more of a demand this year.

“I think there is a bigger need because so many people are unemployed in LaPush,” she said. “Twilight has helped, but only the merchants, not the loggers or fishermen.”

The auctions feature a wide variety of gift items, from handcrafted works by Native artists to stays at local lodges and inns and clothing. And of course, there is “Edward’s ‘Bite Me'” apple butter.

Penn said about 20 local artists will have booths at the event and will each be donating an item to the auction.

Christmas shop stop

“It’s a great place to Christmas shop,” she said.

There also will be pictures with Santa.

The dinner, at $10 a plate, boasts a wealth of local bounty, including fresh crab, fresh and smoked salmon or steelhead, clam chowder, fry bread and coleslaw. The seafood is all donated by tribal fishermen.

There will also be spaghetti for $2 a plate and hot dogs or fry bread for $1 each.

The dinner and auction takes place at the A-Ka-Lat community center, located at 1 By Yak Way. It begins with the dinner and silent auction at 5 p.m. followed by the live auction at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.

Saturday morning dawns in Forks with a Santa Breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Congregational Church, 280 S. Spartan Ave., sponsored by the West End Business and Professional Association.

Cost for the full breakfast is $5, with kids age 12 and younger free. Pictures with Santa are $3.

From there, visitors can head over to check out the greenery at the 15th Annual Festival of Trees, held Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. both days in the Bank of America lobby at 481 S. Forks Ave.

Public viewing, voting for personal favorites and looking over silent auction items is from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with the trees going up for live auction at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The fundraising event is sponsored by Soroptimist International of the Olympic Peninsula Rainforest with the theme “Christmas in the Northwest.”

Local Soroptimist President Cathy Johnson said money from the sale of the 19 trees and 12 wreaths goes toward scholarships to assist West End woman and children.

While the sale normally nets around $10,000, Johnson said, “In this economy, we are thankful for whatever we can make.”

The trees are sponsored by local businesses and decorated by volunteer designers.

“It truly takes a lot of people to pull this off,” Johnson said.

Entertainment for the event includes caroling by the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church’s Children’s Choir.

Twinkle Light Parade

In an event that is unique among North Olympic Peninsula towns, Forks hosts a holiday Twinkle Light Parade, which takes place at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The only rule for entries is that they have “something with lights,” parade organizer Janet Hughes said.

The parade starts at C Street across from The Coffeeshop, and proceeds down Main Street (also known as U.S. Highway 101) to Wood Avenue.

Entries include a train decorated by West End businesses, a float by the city of Forks, Frosty the Snowman and, bringing up the rear, Santa Claus.

Hughes noted, “We’ve done the parade in every kind of weather possible. It has never been canceled.”

Rain, sleet, cold or snow, the parade will go on.

After the parade, stores along Main Street will be open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for “Moonlight Madness,” with shopping bargains in every store.

This weekend is a chance for Forks to show visitors what life was like in the Northwest town before the Twilight phenomenon struck. The four-novel series about teen love and vampires set in Forks has generated interest from thousands of tourists.

“There is so much to do out here,” Hughes said.

Victorian holiday in Port Townsend

On the east side of the Peninsula, Port Townsend will host a day and evening of festivities Saturday with a Victorian flair.

Activities are centered around Haller Fountain, at Washington and Taylor streets, where the community Christmas tree is lit.

The 24-foot Noble fir was donated by Phil and Sandy Johnson, and set up and decorated by the Port Townsend Fire Department.

There will be caroling by The Wild Rose Chorale from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and horse-drawn carriage rides from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., for a small fee.

Mari Mullen, Port Townsend Main Street Program director, advises getting to the fountain earlier, as the event draws about a thousand people.

Taylor Street between Washington and Water streets will be closed to accommodate the crowd.

“I thinks it’s one of the sweetest days in town,” Mullen said. “It’s a great way to get the holiday spirit going.”

Santa Claus will arrive by horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by Port Townsend Mayor Michelle Sandoval, at 4:30 p.m.

After Mayor Sandoval gives a short welcome speech and Santa reads an original poem he penned just for the occasion, the tree will be lit at about 4:45 p.m.

Santa then will visit with children until 7 p.m.

Store specials

Many downtown merchants will be open late, offering in-store specials and treats for shoppers.

And, one lucky shopper will win a $1,000 Holiday Sweepstakes in merchant gift certificates to use for shopping downtown.

Tickets are available until noon today at participating merchants, with one ticket free per adult (must be 18 or over).

The sweepstakes is sponsored by First Federal, and the winner will be announced after 5 p.m. at the Haller Fountain.

The event also coincides with the monthly Gallery Walk, with several downtown galleries hosting receptions for artists showing their works through December; a free reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” 7:30 p.m. at the Pope Marine Building, 540 Water St.; and ongoing performances of “Scrooge: The Musical” at the Key City Public Theatre, 419 S. Washington St. For information on “Scrooge” visit www.keycitypublictheeatre.org.

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Features Editor Marcie Miller can be reached at 360-417-3550 or [email protected]

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