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Elves spread joy one brush stroke at a time

POULSBO — In one classic story, a band of elves works by night to fill a shoemaker’s shop with beautiful wares.

In Little Norway, the elves that bring holiday cheer to storefronts across the city work by day — much to the delight of local kids and kids at heart. On a recent morning, these artistic ladies were on hand at Central Market practicing an art that has stood more than 50 years, four generations and hundreds of windows in Poulsbo.

“I grew up with the elves,” painter Rhonda (Salo) Guerra explained while adding a reindeer on skis to the front of the Central Market coffee shop. “They were painting before I was born.”

Guerra was asked to join the team about 20 years ago and said she jumped at the chance, even if it meant working in the cold outside.

“It was like a dream for me, it was like going from Little League to the big league,” she recalled.

Her daughter, Naleena Villarreal, 22, worked nearby painting birdhouses. Villarreal helped her mom work about 10 years ago, before Guerra had to take a hiatus because of complications with pneumonia.

This year marked the first season that mother and daughter had returned to the window painting business — this time with Villarreal doing more than assisting her mom.

Gail Kimmel serves as the brains for the small operation, finding her muse in Christmas cards, stickers, postcards and even children’s books. Her trademark Norwegian children can be seen throughout the community. Kimmel has been part of the Poulsbo Elves team for more than 30 years. She started painting with group founders Annie Campbell and Margie Schmuck.

“I just like Christmas and I like Christmas figures,” Kimmel explained of her passion for the once-yearly jobs. “And I love Poulsbo and making it look nice.”

So far, the small team of painters has completed about 10 windows and they anticipate finishing at least 40-50 before the season is over.

“But not as many as we used to,” Kimmel said. “A lot of stores now don’t do it, or they use their windows for display or something.”By CARRINA STANTON

Staff Writer

POULSBO — In one classic story, a band of elves works by night to fill a shoemaker’s shop with beautiful wares.

In Little Norway, the elves that bring holiday cheer to storefronts across the city work by day — much to the delight of local kids and kids at heart. On a recent morning, these artistic ladies were on hand at Central Market practicing an art that has stood more than 50 years, four generations and hundreds of windows in Poulsbo.

“I grew up with the elves,” painter Rhonda (Salo) Guerra explained while adding a reindeer on skis to the front of the Central Market coffee shop. “They were painting before I was born.”

Guerra was asked to join the team about 20 years ago and said she jumped at the chance, even if it meant working in the cold outside.

“It was like a dream for me, it was like going from Little League to the big league,” she recalled.

Her daughter, Naleena Villarreal, 22, worked nearby painting birdhouses. Villarreal helped her mom work about 10 years ago, before Guerra had to take a hiatus because of complications with pneumonia.

This year marked the first season that mother and daughter had returned to the window painting business — this time with Villarreal doing more than assisting her mom.

Gail Kimmel serves as the brains for the small operation, finding her muse in Christmas cards, stickers, postcards and even children’s books. Her trademark Norwegian children can be seen throughout the community. Kimmel has been part of the Poulsbo Elves team for more than 30 years. She started painting with group founders Annie Campbell and Margie Schmuck.

“I just like Christmas and I like Christmas figures,” Kimmel explained of her passion for the once-yearly jobs. “And I love Poulsbo and making it look nice.”

So far, the small team of painters has completed about 10 windows and they anticipate finishing at least 40-50 before the season is over.

“But not as many as we used to,” Kimmel said. “A lot of stores now don’t do it, or they use their windows for display or something.”

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