PORT TOWNSEND — ’Tis the season in Jefferson County as a month of holiday festivities kick off Saturday afternoon downtown.
The Main Street Tree Lighting Celebration and Santa Visit in Port Townsend will take place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Haller Fountain and the Pope Marine Building respectively.
Attendees should get there early as carolers from Wild Rose Chorale will serenade street walkers from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Despite the inclement weather, the tree is ready to go for the holiday season as volunteers braved the rain and wind this week to ensure the lighting would go on as scheduled.
While the tree lighting is always the highlight, there is more going on — downtown stores stay open past regular business hours, local galleries host their monthly art walk, and patrons can take in a vignette of the local hit holiday musical “Spirit of the Yule.”
The Port Townsend and Olympic Peninsula-themed show will have actors on hand to perform a few scenes at Haller Fountain near the tree to give a little preview of the show.
“Spirit of the Yule” opened Thursday night and runs until Dec. 23 at the Key City Public Theatre on Lawrence Street. For those who saw the show last year, a few changes have been made to keep it fresh.
“Whatever holiday show we’re doing, we always bring members of the cast. We’ll sing something, we do a little teaser so people can get a sense of the show,” said Denise Winter, executive artistic director at Key City Public Theatre.
Thanks to the many downtown businesses that plan to stay open later Saturday and throughout the month of December, there will be no need to be chased out of a mall Christmas Eve with wish lists still unfulfilled.
“It’s a wonderful place for people to do their Christmas shopping,” said Mari Mullen, executive director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program. “We have wonderfully original, entrepreneur-owned shops. There are lots of great, original gift ideas.”
Marion Lodwick of Abracadabra on Water Street said her store has a “soft closing.” It stays open until at least 6:30 p.m. on weekdays and 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, but as long as customers are coming in, the store will stay open as necessary.
“It’s to give people who work a chance to come down and shop after work in a time frame where they can relax,” said Lodwick. “We have a soft closing. If someone comes in and it’s 6:30, and they are shopping and looking around, looking at things they want, we’re not going to hurry them. And my people are really good about helping people and letting them browse.”
Coinciding with the holiday celebrations is the Gallery Walk hosted by downtown businesses and galleries such as Port Townsend Gallery. The artists of the month at the gallery are jewelers, which ties into the holiday theme because many people like to give jewelry as a gift.
“All of our artists create something new that no one has ever seen before,” said Barbara Ewing of Port Townsend Gallery. “That’s why, I think, the public likes to attend our gallery walks. We’ll have winter themes as well as holiday themes.”
Finally, the annual Gingerbread Contest is returning in full force to Aldrich’s Market.
Entries will be accepted from today through Dec. 14, and they will be judged Dec. 16. There will be categories for different age groups: 8 and younger, 9 to 13, 14 to 18 and an open division for those age 18 and older.
Scott Rogers, the owner of Aldrich’s, said the theme is to create something that is uniquely Port Townsend.
“This is absolutely about continuing the tradition,” said Rogers.
“This store is not so much a store as it is a community center, in a way. This is just another way for the community to come participate.
“We’ll have our tree up and hopefully we’ll get the kids to come and put gingerbread men on the tree, and do all kinds of fun stuff for the holidays.”
For a full list of events, visit ptmainstreet.org.