Winter weather heralds in Julefest celebration

POULSBO — Not to be dampened by the winter weather, the Sons of Norway Julefest celebrators held their heads high and danced the night away Saturday, as nearly 100 attendees — quite the number for such cold conditions — huddled beneath Waterfront Park’s Kvelstad Pavilion to ring in the holidays with a ceremony unique to the shores of Liberty Bay.

And despite a few program cancellations, the night was full of music and cheer as the Sons men’schoir entertained the chilly crowd with both English and Norwegian renditions of holiday favorites — even going so far as to don red noses for their performance of “Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer.”

Lodge president Wade Moncrief said perseverance was the name of the game, as Mother Nature sometimes descends a drizzle, or a few flakes, on the yearly Christmas gathering.

“It’s better than I thought,” he said of the crowd’s size. “It’s kind of nice that they came out.”

Moncrief said the event is held to bring the community together in holiday cheer, and good weather or not, the lodge is dedicated to it.

“Sometimes the weather’s better than other years,” he said.

Miss Poulsbo Alex Duchemin, who was on hand to signal the lighting of the Waterfront Christmas Tree, commended the audience for braving the cold and joining in a beloved tradition.

“I’m so impressed that you are all here,” she said. “I was wondering if I’d be the only one.”

As onlookers gathered, she gestured for the tree lighting, and said, “Let our tree be lit,” and lit — two thirds of the way, at least — it was. Duchemin said the snow proved a tricky challenge in stringing the entire tree, but the problem was soon to be remedied.

Dancing, clapping and stomping around the pavilion followed, as the Leikarringen children’s dance group led a host of others, perhaps attempting to warm up, in a jolly, good ol’ Scandinavian time.

Lucia Bride Kristina Moseng and her convoy of Vikings came via foot again this year, their boat under repairs. But the lack of a maritime entrance did not dissuade her mission of lighting the annual holiday fire.

Viking Jim Burk, who has nearly three decades of Viking experience, said despite making the trek across the waterfront boardwalk, the ceremony still turned out for the best.

“It works out pretty well,” he said.

As the bonfire lit the night sky and Santa arrived via fire engine, Cindy Nevins of Poulsbo, at the event with her husband Tom, said the atmosphere created is one she doesn’t like to miss.

“I just think having a winter bonfire seems so primal,” she said.

And though the event was a bit quieter than last year, with a smaller crowd and less sounding of the Viking’s horns, it was still, overall, a success.

“I just love watching the sparks flying into the night sky,” Nevins said.

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