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.
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.
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.
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.