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Town decked for holidays

Oak Harbor’s Old Town need not hide its store fronts for lack of Christmas spirit. Thanks to local Marines and a sailor, Pioneer Way is dressed in its Christmas greenery and boughs of holiday pine.

Gunnery Sgt. Ambrose Purugganan said for the past five years, the Marines have gladly taken on the task of greening Oak Harbor.

“It has always been a marine task,” he said.

With 24 Marine volunteers and one helpful sailor, the work Thursday morning took about three hours.

“We always have a lot of people who show up. It’s a good thing,” Purugganan he said. “If our folks can help out, we’ll do it.”

He said they have never done the greening on a weekday, but decided to do so this year, and do it early enough in the morning so as to inconvenience shops, businesses and traffic as little as possible.

Local shops showed their appreciation for the volunteers’ work by offering what comforts and assistance they could.

Oak Harbor resident Eric Anderson donated doughnuts for the workers. Big Cup coffee shop donated coffee. Pioneer Cafe gave hot chocolate and sandwiches and Island Construction put out a cart with cookies, coffee and muffins.

Joking around and making friendly jabs at each other’s greening techniques and work efforts, volunteers climbed ladders and twisted wires around the evergreen boughs and gauged slope and curve, commenting on the symmetry and aesthetics of each hanging bough.

Rotating in and out of the Old Town Mall for hot chocolate, coffee and doughnuts, everyone got a turn to warm their hands before they headed back out to tackle a few more ropes of pine and wet storefronts.

Mary Owens, assistant to the mayor, said this is her first year working with the greening volunteers.

“They’re a great group to work with,” she said. “They get it done so fast.”

In regards to getting things done and operation organization, Gunnery Sgt. Keith Summerill laughs.

“It’s always organized,” he said honestly

and mischievously. “‘Cause we’re the ones who run it, so

of course it’s organized.”

Summerill said he enjoys the holiday season because of how people’s attitudes transform, and more people become agreeable and friendly.

Midway through the work, Mayor Patty Cohen stopped by to thank the workers for their services. She also stopped by the shops that donated refreshments and drinks for the volunteers, to thank them as well.

Cohen said she is proud that Oak Harbor is home to such good people.

“I feel like a proud mom,” she said. And then looking at the 25 volunteers, she smiled at the humor of that statement and added, “With a lot of kids.”

She thanked all of the marines from Matsg 53 and AME1 Dave Glass, the only sailor, for their help and holiday spirit in the greening of Oak Harbor and the Old Town tradition which starts off the holiday season.

Owens said the town’s other holiday decorations and Christmas decor, such as the snowflake and reindeer lights are paid for, maintained and hung by Oak Harbor’s Sunrise Rotary. She said it was the group’s first year assisting with the holiday decorations.

Mary Anderson, the Sunrise Rotary president, said the group had a good time relamping the decorations and watching the town light up as each decoration lit up. She said, ushering in the Christmas season with other volunteers, she felt warm knowing what people would see coming into town and the Christmas spirit it would put them into.

“I think that people tend to extend themselves more to others,” she said, commenting on what she liked best about the holidays. “This time of year brings out the best in people.”

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