PORT ORCHARD — Merchants along Bay Street have primped and decorated their storefronts and sidewalks in preparation for the 20th annual Festival of Chimes and Lights that will set downtown ablaze in Christmas lights and fanciful decorations on Saturday, Dec. 1.
This favorite winter festival event is always highlighted by the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree, which stands majestically in front of Port Orchard City Hall. Honorary tree lighter this year is downtown merchant and community activist Bobbie Stewart, who will throw the switch at about 5:20 p.m. Saturday to set the giant fir aglow in holiday colors.
Shortly after the tree lighting ceremony, Santa Claus will arrive atop a vintage fire truck, surrounded by the South Kitsap High School marching band.
Residents who attend the festival will have their choice of activities to get them into a fuzzy holiday mood prior to those culminating events. The eighth-annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk benefiting the Arthritis Foundation will take place beginning at about 1 p.m. The Dragonfly Cinema on Bay Street will have free showings of the holiday classic “Home Alone” throughout the day, and musical and dance performances will lighten the atmosphere at every corner of downtown.
The Port Orchard Marina will once again host a colorful collection of boats and yachts when the Sinclair Inlet Yacht Club stages its “Christmas Lane” lighted boat contest from 5-8 p.m.
Another festival favorite is the holiday “Pooch & Purrs Pet Parade and Costume Contest” that will take place at 4:30 p.m. along Bay Street.
While the festival is 20 years old, this is the first year of Bay Street’s decorated Christmas tree contest. Living fir trees planted in boxes along Bay Street have been decorated during the past few weeks by merchants and community organizations. The trees will be judged for their decorative creativity and beauty.
Merchants will provide free cookies, cocoa, cider, chili and candy canes for festival-goers as they do their holiday shopping, according to the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce.