Chimes and Lights Festival Back To Holly Jolly Self

A full day of holiday festivities is planned for the in-person return of the Port Orchard Festival of Chimes and Lights Dec 3. for the first time since 2019.

The Christmas spirit remained with the city through the pandemic, with both the 2020 and 2021 festivals converted to drive-through events along the city’s main street.

But event chairwoman Cindy Lucarelli said the city is glad to bring back the celebration in full force. “That’s huge to be back gathering again because it attracts so many thousands of people. We expect there will be a great turnout again this year,” she said.

The Sydney Art Gallery will open its doors at 10 a.m. to begin the day with an open house, providing visitors with holiday treats and a variety of hot drinks. Other locations such as Kitsap Bank and City Hall will have refreshments during the afternoon.

Also returning are classic events such as the Pooch N’ Purr Pet Parade and Costume Contest. Lucarelli said there were over 20 pets registered for the event as of Nov. 22.

The talents of South Kitsap students will be on display at the main stage at City Hall, with performances from the choirs and groups from different South Kitsap elementary and middle schools. The South Kitsap High School marching band will perform in the evening.

Lucarelli said the inclusion of schools at these events makes them feel even more local. “People come out to see their grandkids and their kids,” she said.

The event will culminate with the lighting of the Christmas tree, followed by the escorting of Santa and Mrs. Claus to the crowd for pictures with families.

Terry Bontrager, who grew up in Port Orchard and served with the Port Orchard Volunteer Fire Department and South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, will light the tree. “I think it was real fitting for him to be our tree lighter,” Lucarelli said. “He’s thrilled…and it’s really fun to be able to honor him like this.”