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Jule Fest lights up the Poulsbo waterfront

POULSBO — Rain wasn’t enough to douse one of the more beautiful and memorable sights of the holiday season in Poulsbo this weekend.

More than 100 people braved cold, wet conditions Saturday night to attend the Sons of Norway’s annual Jule Fest at Waterfront Park. The event has been celebrated in Poulsbo since the 1980s but is a European tradition that dates back hundreds of years.

Led by master of ceremonies Stan Teigland, the incoming Sons of Norway #44 lodge president, the event began with a little bit of a lurch as the community Christmas tree took some time to light. But that was soon forgotten as attendees enjoyed music from the Vestre Sund Mannskor while children danced around a Christmas tree in the Kvelstad Pavilion. Dr. Roy Johnson and the Julenisse were also on hand with tales of Scandinavian holiday traditions for the wee ones.

“You have to expect some ups and downs with something like this,” said Sons cultural director Grace Overby of the event. “But all in all, I think it was great. The crowds were really good.”

About an hour into the event, almost as if on cue, the rain that had plagued the crowds throughout the event eased as the visit from the Lucia Bride approached.

Each year, a young woman is chosen to represent the Swedish saint, a young Christian woman who gave all her wealth to the poor and was martyrized in the year 304. This year portrayed by Kate Olanie, the saint of Christmastime was ferried across Liberty Bay in a Viking boat to the strains of “Santa Lucia” sung by Patricia Brumbaugh.

Dressed in white and wearing a lighted crown of evergreens, Olanie was escorted from her boat to the community fire pit by a solemn procession of the Sons of Norway Vikings. Then, those who had lasted through the cold were rewarded as a bonfire lit up the night.

Other highlights of the evening included the lighting of the community Christmas tree and a visit by Santa Claus, who was assisted by Miss Poulsbo Danielle Deitch.

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