The tree at Haller Fountain in Port Townsend was officially lit Saturday. (Mark Krulish/for Peninsula Daily News)

The tree at Haller Fountain in Port Townsend was officially lit Saturday. (Mark Krulish/for Peninsula Daily News)

Hundreds gather for tree lighting, Santa visit in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in downtown Port Townsend as the holiday season is underway.

Hundreds filled Washington Street for the eagerly anticipated annual tree lighting at Haller Fountain on Saturday. Neither the rain nor chilly conditions could keep away the crowd or Santa Claus himself, who attended the festivities via the Kiwanis Choo Choo Train.

In the days leading up to the tree lighting, storefronts around downtown had put up Christmas decorations, musicians had been playing holiday music on the sidewalks and a local group of singers went around to various businesses and street corners to spread a little holiday cheer.

But it never seems to officially be the holiday season until the tree at Haller Fountain is lit up for all to see.

In the days leading up to the tree lighting, volunteers braved inclement weather to make sure it was decorated and ready to go for the big night.

Tree lit

Once Mayor Deborah Stinson and Santa Claus gave the green light, the tree illuminated Haller Fountain, complete with a big star on top, eliciting applause.

Wild Rose Chorale, who sang a couple of holiday numbers a cappella, had the crowd warm before Stinson welcomed those in attendance.

Noting the uniqueness of Port Townsend’s celebration — it’s an evening where a good portion of the community attends and many linger downtown to patronize the local businesses, which stay open past normal operating hours — Stinson highlighted the reciprocal support residents and business owners have for one another as a reason why the city is such a special place.

“We are so fortunate to be living in a small town like this,” Stinson said.

Once the tree was lit, the crowd quickly dispersed thanks to the many young residents who dashed off to meet Santa Claus with parents chasing after them.

Santa Claus returned to his vehicle so he could ride to his final destination at the Pope Marine Building where the children got the chance to tell him what they want for Christmas.

Before long, the line had stretched back almost to the sidewalk along Water Street.

The youngsters patiently waited their turn in hopes that their wishes will come true in just 22 days.

Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson welcomes the crowd Saturday with Santa Claus in the background. (Mark Krulish/for Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson welcomes the crowd Saturday with Santa Claus in the background. (Mark Krulish/for Peninsula Daily News)

Wild Rose Chorale members sing Christmas carols on the streets of Port Townsend. The singers are, from left, Leslie Lewis, Doug Rodgers, Lynn Nowak, Orion Pendley, Al Thompson, JES Schumacher, Charles Helman and Marj Iuro. (Mark Krulish/for Peninsula Daily News)

Wild Rose Chorale members sing Christmas carols on the streets of Port Townsend. The singers are, from left, Leslie Lewis, Doug Rodgers, Lynn Nowak, Orion Pendley, Al Thompson, JES Schumacher, Charles Helman and Marj Iuro. (Mark Krulish/for Peninsula Daily News)

Owen Thetford, 6, meets with Santa Claus on Saturday in Port Townsend. (Mark Krulish/for Peninsula Daily News)

Owen Thetford, 6, meets with Santa Claus on Saturday in Port Townsend. (Mark Krulish/for Peninsula Daily News)

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