Holiday Round Up! Islanders can enjoy several holiday events this season
— Created December 2, 2020 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Neither wind, nor rain, nor global pandemic can keep that intrepid elf Santa Claus from making his appointed rounds on Whidbey Island!
Jolly ‘ol Saint Nicholas will be making several appearances in the coming days, but there is no shortage of events scheduled to mark the season. All these events are outdoors and most will require you to participate from a vehicle at a safe distance.
Home for the Holidays Santa Cruise:
Saturday, Dec. 5
Downtown Oak Harbor
Santa will be cruising down Bayshore Drive and Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor Saturday, and he is hoping lots of people will cruise by and wave to him after he stations himself in front of Harborside Village Mall from 4 to 6 p.m. In fact, Santa hopes everyone will decorate their vehicles and get in the spirit of things, too.
“Since we cannot do a regular tree lighting because that requires gathering people together, we decided to do a Santa Cruise,” said Margaret Livermore, acting co-director of the Oak Harbor Main Street Association. “We are asking people to decorate their cars for the holidays and cruise down Pioneer Way and Bayshore and around again. They are welcome to cruise around town as well.”
Those choosing to join the cruise will be asked to stop at the sign at Dock and Pioneer, where elves will be passing out candy canes, along with tending to other very important duties.
“If kids have letters for Santa, they can give them to the elves and they will get them to Santa,” Livermore said. “Then they will drive down the street and wave at Santa.”
The Santa Cruise is just one of the things going on in Oak Harbor’s historic downtown, such as the pop up Holiday Market and the annual Green Ticket Giveaway.
“The drawing for the Green Ticket Giveaway will be done virtually at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19,” said Livermore. “The OHMSA has commissioned an artist to paint winter scenes on the windows of downtown businesses. If you are so inclined, take an evening stroll down Pioneer Way. The window lights are beautiful.
“During the day you can see the over 70 Toy Soldiers that have been painted over the last four years by businesses, individuals and organizations,” she continued. “This year’s new Toy Soldiers are displayed on the fence between Allure Salon and Dock Street. You can go to oakharbormainstreet.org and vote for your favorite.”
Part of the adoption fee for the Toy Soldiers goes to Toys for Tots, according to Livermore.
Things might look a little different this year, according to Livermore, but she said that shouldn’t hamper one’s enjoyment of the season.
“We would like to ask people to share the spirit of the holidays even if the events take on a different look this year,” she said. “It is important to share the joy and happiness with others, even if it means at a distance.”
Find details at oakharbormainstreet.org.
Drive Through Story of Christmas:
Saturday, Dec. 5
675 East Whidbey Ave., Oak Harbor
All are invited to drive the road to Bethlehem and experience the Real Story of Christmas at Oak Harbor Christian School from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday evening. The school has joined forces with several other churches and organizations from the community to put on this free, one-night Christmas display, featuring several vignettes, live actors and animals as well as music and crafts for the kids (while supplies last).
“I think it’s going to be really cool,” said Oak Harbor Christian School Principal Mary Beth Eelkema. “This year, because we can’t have it in the gym, we decided to do several vignettes, from the soldiers to the angels visiting the shepherds, to the ‘no room at the inn,’ to the night of Christ’s birth.”
Eelkema noted this will be a drive-by event, aligning with all public health safety protocols. It is an outdoor event and will be held rain or shine. All actors in each individual vignette will be adding masks to their costumes this year.
“The story of Christ’s birth is what we want to get out there, masks or no masks,” she said. “This is our gift to the community. We want to share what we believe.”
Go to oakharborchristian.org for more information.
Central Whidbey Neighborhood Tours:
Approximately 5:30 p.m. each evening
For schedule go to: www.facebook.com/cwfirerescue
Santa has teamed up with Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue to continue his traditional neighborhood visits again this year. Visits will begin at about 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7 and will take place each Monday, Wednesday and Friday through Dec. 21 at various locations around central Whidbey. The full schedule can be found online at facebook.com/cwfirerescue.
“It is important for us to maintain Santa’s schedule every year, but this year was particularly important as we hope that this will bring at least a little normalcy to an otherwise traumatic year for everyone in the community,” said CWIFR Chief Ed Hartin.
While they are asking people wear masks and to avoid forming large groups to say hello to Santa, Hartin said Saint Nick’s helpers have come up with a sweet idea for distributing goodies.
“In the past we have had our elves bring candy canes to people who could only watch from their doorway or porch,” he explained. “This year the elves will be on the fire engine with Santa and will distribute candy canes to from a distance using a special candy cane dispensing device. Our elves and other assistants will be masked up and compliant with best practice to remain safe.”
Those who turn out to see Santa can also share some holiday spirit by making donations of canned food.
“We are working on a method for food donations,” said Hartin. “Right now, it looks like one of our vehicles will tow a trailer with containers for food collection. All of the food goes to the Gifts from the Heart foodbank.”
Visit times could be impacted by weather, so check for time and location by visiting cwfire.org or on Facebook for updates.
Santa’s Sleigh at Bayview
Thursday, Dec. 10, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 12, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
5579 Bayview Rd., Langley
Saint Nick has visits planned on South Whidbey as well, but this time the visitors will come to see him, not the other way around.
Santa has been doing neighborhood visits on South Whidbey since 1995, but due to COVID-19, this year he’s asked the crew at South Whidbey Fire and EMS to set up a special drive-through at its Bayview Station in Langley.
Visitors are asked to remain in their vehicles and wear masks as they drive through holiday lights and decorations while enjoying music, goodie bags and special greetings from Santa.
Learn more about South Whidbey Fire/EMS and Santa’s Sleigh on Facebook or at www.swfe.org.
Deck the Doors in Langley:
Step into a holiday wonderland in Langley, where businesses are participating in the annual Deck the Doors holiday event put on by the Langley Main Street Association.
“Businesses go wild with imagination and holiday cheer by decorating downtown Langley doors and windows,” said Michaleen McGarry, executive director of LMSA. “This annual event is a highly-anticipated affair that allows everyone the opportunity to escape the crowds by leisurely shopping in our charming seaside village.
“This year, the idea of an outdoor holiday art gallery takes on special significance due to COVID-19,” she continued. “Langley’s streets offer a safe place to stroll with your family–day or night–stop for hot chocolate and pick up something special for everyone on your gift-giving list. There are lots of surprises as well, so we highly recommend meandering down the alleys and lanes about town when you come!”
Find out more at langleymainstreet.org.