PORT TOWNSEND — Shortly after 4 o’clock in the afternoon, it appears, just partially, from Lawrence Street.
As a driver, bicyclist or pedestrian comes closer, the thing grows taller: a Christmas tree-shaped display, with lights twinkling in crimson and gold and a big star at the top.
The deep green of towering trees and the satin blue of Admiralty Inlet provide the background.
“It’s plugged in on our front porch,” said Carin Tonina, the neighbor whose husband, Norm, helped put up the tree of lights a few days ago.
Their neighbor, retired Jefferson County Sheriff Mel Mefford, should get credit for the original idea, Tonina added.
“He’s been doing it for years,” to brighten this corner of Port Townsend near Chetzemoka Park.
The tree, installed on the grass beside the Toninas’ house at Lawrence and Jackson streets, twinkles late into the night, and then a timer turns it off.
This neighborhood tree is one of many illuminations across the North Olympic Peninsula — displays simple and lavish, in homes and businesses.
The Victorian Clipper barbershop on Kearney Street, the Blue Gull Inn on Uptown’s Clay Street and a residence on McNeil Street are a few well-known spots inside Port Townsend’s city limits.
They make a big difference to people such as Port Townsend Mayor Michelle Sandoval, who was inspired Tuesday night to share her thoughts on social media.
“I’ve been so focused on my never ending to-do list,” she began in a Facebook post.
Two years ago, Sandoval’s husband Marty suffered a stroke; his rehabilitation is ongoing. And so is the pandemic, which has added to the city issues with which the mayor contends.
“Some days it felt like way too much … I have been on permanent overwhelm,” Sandoval admitted.
“But tonight, as I drove through our marvelous little town with wonderful winter lights and decorations up, all glistening in the rain … I am so grateful to live in this community. I’m so silly for not looking up more often in the last two years.”
The mayor also expressed gratitude for downtown’s added lighting, including the Tyler Street Plaza tent.
The 30-foot by 40-foot canopy is installed and aglow thanks to the Main Street Program and the Production Alliance, two nonprofit organizations. It will provide shelter and light on the plaza at Water and Tyler streets until very late December, and then move down to Pope Marine Park for First Night festivities on New Year’s Eve.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]