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Hundreds help ring in holidays in downtown Oak Harbor

The Grinch came to entertain children waiting in line to visit Santa Claus after the tree lighing in downtown Oak Harbor. The line stretched from the inside of the building to across the street. Stores on Pioneer Way stayed open later so community members could get a start on their holiday shopping.  - Sara Hansen/Whidbey News-Times
The Grinch came to entertain children waiting in line to visit Santa Claus after the tree lighing in downtown Oak Harbor. The line stretched from the inside of the building to across the street. Stores on Pioneer Way stayed open later so community members could get a start on their holiday shopping.
— image credit: Sara Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Even with dark gray clouds overhead, fate refused to rain on the holiday happenings Saturday.

Community members came together in downtown Oak Harbor for the annual Tree Lighting and Santa’s Arrival Nov. 30.

Marisa LaRue traveled from Freeland with her granddaughter to do some shopping and watch the lighting.

“I’m glad it’s not raining,” she said.

As the hour drew closer, a growing number of people began gathering around the tree in anticipation. Then, the sound of a fire truck could be heard in the distance.

“Oh, I hear something,” said Margaret Livermore, Downtown Merchants Association president. “You might want to keep an eye down the street — it could be Santa.”

Oak Harbor Fire Department escorted Santa Claus down Pioneer Way to light the tree. Santa said his reindeer needed to rest for the big day and that it was nice for the department to give him a lift.

After Santa counted down the tree lighting, caroling began with “Jingle Bells.”

But the children were eager to get to the next part of the evening — talking with Santa.

Santa made his way to his chair and children followed him all the way. The line stretched out of the building and across the street.

Sisters Abigail, 8, and Alexis Pepper, 5, could barely contain their excitement as they waited outside in the street.

“After this, we’re going to go see ‘Frozen,’” Abigail said, referring to a new animated movie.

Abigail said she was planning to ask Santa for a double-sided scooter for Christmas. She wanted the line to move faster so they would be on time for the start of the film.

Alexis was equally excited. She said she wanted to ask Santa for a Buzz Lightyear action figure.

Next to the sisters in line was Hailey Doyle, 8. Hailey said she didn’t want a toy this year. Instead, she wants a pet bunny rabbit, which she hopes to name “Sophia.”

She wanted one “because they’re really cuddly.”

Her mother, Kelly Doyle, explained the responsibility involved with caring for a pet.

“You have to feed it and clean up after it,” Doyle said.

Hailey said she also wants a Monster High doll. The dolls are themed around monsters, and some have name like Abbey Bominable, Draculaura and Frankie Stein.

Doyle works in Oak Harbor, but lives in Clinton. They came to Oak Harbor especially for the festivities.

Doyle said Hailey used to be afraid of Santa Claus, but this year she was conquering that fear.

“But I’m not scared of him any more,” Hailey said.

While waiting in line for Santa, kids could color pictures, write letters to the Santa or get a balloon animal from Clover the Balloon Ferry.

Clover, like most fairies who live around humans, can’t speak, according to her written sign. Through her gestures and expressions, she was able to communicate with the children well.

The line moved slow because Santa took his time making sure each child got to tell him everything they wanted for Christmas.

But with all the activities, the kids were able to keep themselves entertained during the wait.

 

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