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Oak Harbor’s Pioneer Way lights up for Christmas

Downtown merchant Kristi Jensen prepares for a month of holiday festivities in downtown Oak Harbor. Things kickoff this weekend with the annual tree lighting on Pioneer Way.  - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
Downtown merchant Kristi Jensen prepares for a month of holiday festivities in downtown Oak Harbor. Things kickoff this weekend with the annual tree lighting on Pioneer Way.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

Hoping to start the holiday season off with a good taste in your mouth, Pioneer Way shopkeepers will be giving out free chocolate this weekend shortly before the annual tree lighting ceremony on Dock Street.

Sweets on the Street, an event in which merchants will offer chocolate goodies and hot cider to customers – no matter how naughty or nice they may have been – begins at 3 p.m. Saturday and kicks off a day full of Christmas-related festivities.

“You can eat your way through downtown,” laughed Kristi Jensen, a merchant and an owner of Harborside Village.

Jensen said she would be making something special but declined to spoil the surprise. She will be one of many members of the Downtown Merchants Association participating in Saturday’s event, which is really just a precursor of a day packed with holiday cheer.

The street will close to traffic at 4 p.m. Along with carolers roving the streets and carriage rides to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters, Santa Claus is expected to arrive on a fire truck sleigh at 6 p.m. and the annual lighting of the tree on the corner of Dock Street and Pioneer Way will follow a short time later.

The tree lighting ceremony has been going on for about eight years, garnering crowds of up to 2,000 people, Jensen said. With all the construction downtown, this has been a particularly tough year for merchants so many are crossing their fingers for a strong turnout.

But the merchants association isn’t leaving too much to chance and has events planned throughout December. Next weekend, Dec. 10-11, the winners of a children’s coloring contest will be able to spend their “downtown bucks” at stores along Pioneer Way.

To participate, kids need to pick up coloring materials at Harborside Village and submit them by Dec. 8. The winners will be awarded five downtown bucks redeemable at shops along Pioneer Way.

“I’m sure they’ll all hit Popsies,” said Jensen, with an understanding grin.

The following weekend is for adults with the Shoppers Stroll, a promotional event in which $500 in gift certificates will be awarded. Anyone who buys something at participating businesses between Dec. 16-17 will be given a ticket for a Sunday drawing. Prizes include one $200 gift certificate and three others valued at $100 each.

Finally Santa Claus will be making additional appearances at Harborside Village through Dec. 23. The location has been decorated in Christmas decor and is a perfect spot for pictures with the kids.

 

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