South Kitsap High School’s marching band lends the sounds of the holidays as Santa Claus, along with Mrs. Claus, follows behind the band in a vintage fire engine. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

South Kitsap High School’s marching band lends the sounds of the holidays as Santa Claus, along with Mrs. Claus, follows behind the band in a vintage fire engine. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Sounds of Christmas, bright lights fill downtown Port Orchard

Festival of Chimes and Lights celebrates its 20th anniversary on a crisp, rainless evening

PORT ORCHARD — The streets surrounding City Hall were packed with onlookers soaking in the Christmas spirit on Saturday, Dec. 1 as lights gracing the City of Port Orchard’s massive fir tree were switched on to get the “ho-ho-ho” holiday season off to a colorful start.

A large crowd gathers in front of City Hall to listen to holiday music from the South Kitsap High School choir and other groups from the area, and watch as honorary tree lighter Bobbie Stewart flips the switch on the City of Port Orchard’s community Christmas tree. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

A large crowd gathers in front of City Hall to listen to holiday music from the South Kitsap High School choir and other groups from the area, and watch as honorary tree lighter Bobbie Stewart flips the switch on the City of Port Orchard’s community Christmas tree. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

This year’s honorary tree lighter, Bay Street businesswoman Bobbie Stewart, transformed the tree into a twinkling sea of red, green, blue and yellow lights. And while the City Hall bell tower traditionally sets off a stream of bell chimes after the tree lighting, it wasn’t to be this 20th-anniversary celebration.

Although the chimes were to play this celebration — City Council member Cindy Lucarelli, who also chaired preparations for the winter festival, said the bell-chiming mechanism originally installed in the tower when the building was completed had stopped operating earlier this year — it couldn’t muster a final effort one last time.

Nevertheless, those attending the ceremony quickly turned their attention to the imminent arrival of Santa Claus and his missus, perched atop a vintage South Kitsap Fire and Rescue fire engine, as they have done over the years.

Santa Claus, accompanied by Mrs. Santa, closes out the annual Festival of Chimes and Lights celebration in downtown Port Orchard. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Santa Claus, accompanied by Mrs. Santa, closes out the annual Festival of Chimes and Lights celebration in downtown Port Orchard. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Jolly Old St. Nick was led along Bay Street into downtown by the South Kitsap High School Marching Band, who members were dressed like wooden marching toy soldiers dabbed in face paint and wearing traditional maroon-colored outfits.

South Kitsap High School’s marching band lends the sounds of the holidays as Santa Claus, along with Mrs. Claus, follows behind the band in a vintage fire engine. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

South Kitsap High School’s marching band lends the sounds of the holidays as Santa Claus, along with Mrs. Claus, follows behind the band in a vintage fire engine. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Also highlighting the festival, as it has in past years, was the 5K Jingle Bell Run/Walk conducted earlier in the afternoon, the Pooches & Purrs pet costume contest and parade, and performances throughout the day by South Kitsap High’s choir and singing groups from throughout South Kitsap.

South Kitsap High School’s marching band lends the sounds of the holidays as Santa Claus, along with Mrs. Claus, follows behind the band in a vintage fire engine. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

South Kitsap High School’s marching band lends the sounds of the holidays as Santa Claus, along with Mrs. Claus, follows behind the band in a vintage fire engine. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

A large crowd gathers in front of City Hall to listen to holiday music from the South Kitsap High School choir and other groups from the area, and watch as honorary tree lighter Bobbie Stewart flips the switch on the City of Port Orchard’s community Christmas tree. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

A large crowd gathers in front of City Hall to listen to holiday music from the South Kitsap High School choir and other groups from the area, and watch as honorary tree lighter Bobbie Stewart flips the switch on the City of Port Orchard’s community Christmas tree. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Young dancers perform for onlookers outside The Dance Gallery on Bay Street during the Festival of Chimes and Lights Saturday, Dec. 1. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Young dancers perform for onlookers outside The Dance Gallery on Bay Street during the Festival of Chimes and Lights Saturday, Dec. 1. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Young dancers perform for onlookers outside The Dance Gallery on Bay Street during the Festival of Chimes and Lights Saturday, Dec. 1. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Young dancers perform for onlookers outside The Dance Gallery on Bay Street during the Festival of Chimes and Lights Saturday, Dec. 1. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Kinleigh, an 8-year-old blue heeler, is happy that the Christmas holiday is here. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Kinleigh, an 8-year-old blue heeler, is happy that the Christmas holiday is here. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Decorated living Christmas trees are colorfully lit for the holidays along Bay Street. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Decorated living Christmas trees are colorfully lit for the holidays along Bay Street. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Bay Street small-business merchants, like The N9ne co. women’s clothing apparel store, are kept busy during the all-day Festival of Chimes and Lights celebration Saturday, Dec. 1. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Bay Street small-business merchants, like The N9ne co. women’s clothing apparel store, are kept busy during the all-day Festival of Chimes and Lights celebration Saturday, Dec. 1. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

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