PORT ANGELES — Santa Claus is expected to arrive at North Olympic Peninsula towns this year to announce the beginning of the traditional holiday season, but area organizers said celebrations will take a different form due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Holiday event organizers are still in the planning stages, with few details confirmed.
Port Angeles traditionally ushers in the holiday season with events centered on the lighting of a Christmas tree in front of the Conrad Dyar Fountain at the intersection of First and Laurel streets downtown on Small Business Saturday, the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 28.
“Santa has said he will be there for the tree lighting,” said April Bellerud, Port Angeles Downtown Association president and Odyssey Bookshop owner.
“But we don’t know exactly what form the event will take. It could be virtual or in-person, or a combination of the two. But we are not planning on closing the street and having a stage set up.
“We may consider doing something similar to what they did with the last beam ceremony for Field Hall, a mix of musical performances and a virtual program.”
“We have the commitment from the city to put up a tree, that’s all been handled, so we can move forward with planning,” Bellerud said. “We will have a better idea after our downtown association meeting in November.”
Sequim’s Hometown Holiday celebration also is traditionally held on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“I can say with massive confidence that there will be lights. We might not have the specific moment where we all come together,” said Anji Scalf, Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director.
Scalf said the chamber is in the middle of board elections and has yet to convene with event planning partners.
“What we do is work with the chamber board and interface with the city, community volunteers and the Sequim Museum and Arts spearheads the tractor parade to accomplish all that goes into the holiday.
“We will definitely do something to mark the occasion, whether it’s lighting the tree each night at 5:30 p.m. or continuing the guess the lights contest,” she added.
“The whole point of Hometown Holidays is to celebrate our community, and it also happens strategically on Small Business Saturday to make it easier to be shopping locally and investing in our neighbors.
“This year, it may take a smaller, more socially-distanced form.”
Forks Forum Editor Christy Baron confirmed the West End Business Association will host the 19th annual Twinkle Light Holiday Parade on Saturday, Dec. 5.
The parade travels from C Street to Wood Street in downtown Forks from 6:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
In a change from past years, there will be no community tree lighting ceremony.
“The tree will already be lit when the parade reaches the triangle because we can’t congregate,” Baron said.
Instead of the traditional Moonlight Madness sales at downtown businesses following the parade, customer appreciation events are planned.
“It was decided it would be a full business day of specials, and hopefully everybody participates and customers can come down throughout the day,” Baron said.
A Facebook livestream is planned for the Port Townsend Main Street program’s holiday celebration on Saturday, Dec. 5.
“We are still playing around with the logistics of the event, but we are still going to have a lighting ceremony with a Christmas tree at Haller Fountain,” program coordinator Eryn Smith said.
“We are in the planning stages for a Santa visit, and the Kiwanis Choo-Choo Train will drive around downtown and uptown after the lighting.”
Other holiday plans are in place.
“We are getting ready to put holiday lights up on the trees downtown, and we will hold our winter window contest with local merchants,” Smith said. “We also are hoping to put on the gingerbread house contest with help from Aldrich’s Market.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].