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Llamas help herald Kingston Christmas

KINGSTON — Christmas carols and candy canes abounded Saturday as residents turned out for the annual Kingston Country Christmas celebration, welcoming holiday cheer into the community. Beginning with arts, crafts and pictures with Kris Kringle, the day ended with a tree lighting in Mike Wallace Memorial Park and left attendees with the feeling that Christmas had truly arrived in North Kitsap.

The Kingston Community Center was again filled with different holiday gifts ideas and activities for children, while the traditional hayrides were visible on Kingston streets throughout the day.

Llamas 4 Love member and vendors coordinator Pam Flaman said the portions of Country Christmas are designed to bring neighbors closer together during this special time of year.

“What we do is all the fine-tuning of the issues and get the vendors,” she said of the Llama 4 Love participation. “We try to keep it tightly community oriented. It always has been that way, and the people who come back have a great time, the atmosphere is always full of fun. Everyone works together, there’s a closeness here.”

About a dozen vendors were in the upper community center room, as well as holiday crafts for children and pictures with Santa Claus set up by the Kingston Kiwanis. Though Kiwanis members ran into a small problem with the computer and printer software being used to print the pictures for parents, they were still enjoying the day and the visits to Father Christmas. Key Club members from Kingston High School were lending a hand in place of Santa’s elves, and all were having a great time watching the children get their photos taken.

“It’s always really fun,” said Key Club President Jessie Huntington, 15. “We’ve been doing this for a couple of years, through the Builder’s Club in junior high, and we love doing it. It’s a lot of fun dressing up.”

Each of the members was sporting red and green in some form, pulling out all the stops to make children feel welcome while visiting the big guy in red.

Key Club member Leah Helm, 15, said watching them was a blast, and she could tell which children were meeting Santa for the first time.

“The kids are adorable,” she said. “Most kids under 3 pretty much cry, but if they’re with their parents, they’re fine. It’s really cute to see them.”

Flaman said the kids’ activities, during which they could make ornaments and other holiday crafts, have become increasingly popular each year. The different stations gave the children something other than pictures with Santa to do while their parents shopped around the different vendors.

“We’ve been doing this for the last three years,” said Llamas 4 Love member Moira Prendergast. “It’s really fun. We’re hoping to keep it growing, it’s great to come out and do something to celebrate Christmas.”

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