Port Townsend tree-lighting ceremony gets a virtual twist

Posted 12/9/20

With a global pandemic playing the role of Grinch this year, Port Townsend had to figure out a way to safely celebrate the arrival of the holiday season.

And on Saturday, it did just that.

Port …

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Port Townsend tree-lighting ceremony gets a virtual twist


With a global pandemic playing the role of Grinch this year, Port Townsend had to figure out a way to safely celebrate the arrival of the holiday season.

And on Saturday, it did just that.

Port Townsend’s holiday tree-lighting ceremony at Haller Fountain was a bit different this year. With health officials urging residents to keep their distance and avoid large gatherings, the elves at the Port Townsend Main Street Program were left to craft a plan that would allow people to get into the festive spirit while also keeping their distance. As is often seen in days of late, by leveraging live-video streaming services, the Port Townsend Main Street Program was able to broadcast the ceremony right to viewers at home.   

The event, which usually sees 500 to 700 people flocking to the Haller Fountain on Washington Street, was streamed through Facebook Live with Denise Winter serving as emcee.

Winter is no stranger to performances herself, as the artistic director for Key City Public Theater, and she was well-suited to warm up the online crowd for an appearance from a very special guest.

Stepping out from the wings, Santa waved to anyone watching on Facebook and to a handful of masked die-hards that just couldn’t resist coming out to the event in person.

With a bellowing “Ho-ho-ho,” he first pointed upward to the old bell tower which sprang to life in festive color. With the help of those watching, Santa counted down from five and then pulled a massive candy cane lever. The 16-foot-tall Christmas tree next to the fountain burst into twinkling light. And just like that, the holidays had come to Port Townsend.     

“It’s a different year,  but I think it looks as beautiful as it’s ever looked,” said Mari Mullen, executive director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program.

“We were still festive, I think people probably would love to have the caroling, but that was just something we couldn’t this year,” she said. “So we just asked people to put on their Christmas music at home and turn it up and tune in.”

Eryn Smith, a coordinator for the Main Street Program, said that despite a lack of familiarity with live-streaming, things went off without a hitch.

“I’ve never done Facebook Live before, so that was a whole new experience,” Smith said. “But that turned out to be pretty easy.”

Those who missed the live event can still watch a recording of the tree-lighting ceremony at www.facebook.com/porttownsendmainstreet. 

Kids who want the chance to give Santa their holiday wishes directly can schedule a time slot to Zoom with Santa Dec. 19 by registering through the Key City Public Theater at keycitypublictheatre.org/zoomwithsanta/.

Despite the pandemic, Santa Claus said it’s still business as usual this year.

Just as in countless years past, Santa said he will be making the rounds to each and every home, delivering gifts to all the good girls and boys, but he still urged caution this holiday season.

“Let’s just keep everything safe for the kids,” Santa said. “Keep smiling, keep believing, everything will work out.”

The big man also said children’s wish lists this year had some longtime favorites such as remote-controlled cars and Barbie dolls, but these days he said many children are asking for something else.

“Health for their parents,” he said. “The majority of them are hoping and wishing for that.”


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  • HarveyW

    Regarding who the Grinch is. This poem has been sent to the No Term Limit Council and Appointed Mayor and her Elf the City Manager for 5 years or so. Last Saturday was "small business Saturday" and the tree lighting with blocked parking on top of the regular non enforcement problems and streeteries taking space.

    I once again had customers complaining of the lack of parking. Some traditions never die, even with Covid.

    Merry Dismiss. Have a GRRRRRREAT New Year in denial Mari and all the gang. Grinches? Some are paid no matter what. Some stay in office no matter what.

    Twas the month before Christmas

    And all through Port Townsend

    Visitors circled, with money to spend

    But parking you see, was taken with glee

    By residents, shop owners, and some employees

    For years on end, nothing was done

    Enforcement, you see, was not that much fun

    Corruption, fact is, has many faces

    In PT, we know, it effects parking spaces

    A political machine engulfed the whole town

    The mayor, we know, could be any clown

    Power was held by a group of insiders

    Power tribe all, not one was a fighter

    Now, Christmas alone was not singled out,

    Summertime too, was not talked about.

    The mayor and council, and manager city

    Did not do their jobs, their attitude snitty.

    Some days were better, others were worse

    Port Townsend suffered, a terrible curse

    Christmas and brotherhood should unite all

    But division was seeded, at City Hall

    The Chamber and Main Street, did not speak up

    Wave makers you see, won't the ladder move up

    On tree lighting day, Santa couldn't show

    No spot for his sled, that's how it goes.

    A lump of coal, in her Christmas stocking

    Was to the mayor, allegedly shocking.

    What did I do, to deserve this black lump?

    Nothing said Nick, you treat guests like chumps.

    One little boy had tried to speak up,

    No answer heard he, the troublesome pup

    I thought that we had a Municipal code,

    The players all laughed, man what a load.

    So PT, you see, needed no Grinch

    Christmas was stolen, without a flinch

    Business as usual, with a few distractions

    Nick flew on by, listing Political inaction.

    But the sled circled 'round

    Then over City Hall

    Santa dumped out......

    Puppets for all.

    As Santa Flew off, into the night

    Very few heard, but Santa was right

    Merry Christmas to all, put up a fight

    Or next Christmas time, you won't pause my flight

    Merry Christmas

    Happy Same Old New Year

    Harvey Windle

    Forest Gems Gallery

    Thursday, December 10, 2020 Report this