Wind doesn’t blow Port Gamble event

PORT GAMBLE — While gray clouds and blustery winds blew through Port Gamble last weekend, it didn’t shy people away from enjoying the historic town’s holiday spirit.

The 8th annual Port Gamble Country Christmas took place Dec. 13 and Dec. 14, with plenty of Santa sightings, arts and crafts shopping and tours of newly opened spaces.

The crafts people who filled the Walker Ames House, House 7 and the Masonic Lodge said they were extremely pleased with the festive atmosphere.

“I think it’s neat, I love it,” said jeweler Pat Coffee. “People come and see the house, too, not just the crafts.”

Coffee was located on the first floor of House 7, a former private residence that was opened to the public for the first time last weekend.

Before it was a private residence, the blue-and-white-trimmed building was the town hospital and home to the local physician during the early 1900s. It is known as the “New York House” as the physicians who lived there were from the East Coast state.

Across the street, Santa Claus was sitting in the living room of the Walker Ames House with artist Vicki Wickell, enjoying the view from the bay windows.

“This is the best house in town, it’s great,” Santa said as he waited for children to come through the house and sit on his lap. “This is probably one of the neatest houses in the county.”

Wickell was in her third year of presenting her artwork at the festival.

“Christmas shows are lots of fun,” Wickell said. “Most people are in good spirits.”

Sisters-in-law Karen and Sharon Reitan of Poulsbo agreed as they did a little Christmas shopping through the town.

“We just think it’s a cute and quaint little place,” Karen said.

“There (are) always talented people here,” Sharon added about the arts and crafts.

Next door, the renovated Port Gamble General Store was a big hit with festival goers.

New store manager Trudy Maloof said people have been reacting positively to the changes. The store recently underwent a makeover, with a reorganization and addition of new retail and a new full service cafe.

“Everyone is glad the seashell museum is open,” Maloof added. “The kids head straight upstairs.”

Outside, Masons Peter Dawson and Tom Settle of Franklin Lodge No. 5 were giving hayrides around town with Santa Claus. Settle was pulling the wagon with his “deer rider” — a John Deere tractor.

“We couldn’t get reindeer. They are union and would only work on Christmas Eve,” Dawson joked.

The Schlotes, Guerrero, Wood and Rang families of Silverdale were celebrating Christmas early together and included the festival as part their activities. The kids, parents and grandparents hopped on the hay wagon for a ride around town.

“We’ve brought the kids before. It’s just such a fun thing to do, it’s a highlight for Christmas,” said grandma Joyce Schlote. “The community sponsors something the family can do that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

The Bates family of Poulsbo has also made the occasion a family tradition.

“We come every year,” said dad Kevin Bates. “It’s the best kept secret in Kitsap.”

Eight-year-old Kelsey Bates said her favorite part of the affair went beyond a visit to Santa.

“I like ringing the bells and I brought my own,” she said.

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