PORT ANGELES — Lights were switched on to illuminate huge ornaments in the early darkness of November.
An estimated 300 people watched as the massive ornaments, fountains and a Christmas tree donated to the 32nd annual Festival of Trees by Microsoft were turned on one at a time outside the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., in Port Angeles on Wednesday evening.
When all were lit at the end, “a collective gasp could heard accompanied by generous applause,” said Bruce Skinner, executive director of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, which puts on the annual Festival of Trees.
“This was our first Opening Ceremony, and with the incredible success of last night, we plan to do it again,” Skinner said in an email.
”The Port Angeles Symphony, Ballet Workshop and Ghostlight Productions gave snippets of their upcoming performances, letting all of us know that you don’t need to go off the Peninsula to find top notch entertainment during the holiday season, and for that matter, at any other time of the year,” he added.
“With these groups, plus the Juan de Fuca Foundation and several others and Field Hall coming on board next summer, Port Angeles is emerging as one of the top performance art communities in the Northwest.”
Of those present, about half watched for free while some 150 purchased tickets that allowed them to view the ceremony while under cover from the elements and to go inside for a preview of the 46 decorated trees that will be auctioned off tonight at the Festival Gala.
The event was presented by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. The foundation was able to obtain the displays through its participation with the Washington Festivals and Events Foundation, where Microsoft also is involved.
The ornaments will continue to be on view through the Festival of Trees weekend, the work of some 450 volunteers, which raises funds for Olympic Medical Center.
Tickets for the gala, which are $105, were still available on Thursday. The gala will be at the Vern Burton center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight.
Family Days tickets also remained available for both Saturday and Sunday. Hours are 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
During Family Days will be photos with Santa form 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, raffles, a variety of entertainment and the opportunity to tour the decorated trees.
Tickets are $7, with children younger than 12 attending for free. To purchase tickets, go to www.omcf.org.