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Country Christmas spirit not dampened

KINGSTON — It was a cold and wet Kingston Country Christmas last weekend, but it didn’t stop residents from joining together with local businesses, artists and civic organizations that were getting into the holiday spirit.

There was artwork to peruse, crafts to make, gifts to purchase and, of course, pictures with Santa Claus.

The famous elf in the velvet red suit was headlining the event at the Kingston Community Center Saturday afternoon, greeting kids and dogs alike, listening to Christmas wishes and handing out candy canes.

“The kids are always great,” Santa said. “Even when they’re bad, they’re good.”

He received many requests for Legos, Barbie dolls that talk, books and display cases for dolls.

“Some of those things we’re going to have to get made so we can get them done,” Santa said.

While waiting to see Santa or for pictures to develop, kids and parents spent their time at the craft table set up by the North Kitsap High School Key Club.

‘Last year, they were waiting around,” said Key Club member Sarah Huntington about this year’s new activity. “This way the kids can do something.”

Kingston Girl Scouts Troop 1221 members were also hard at work selling the fruits of their own labor — beaded snowflakes, holiday gift tags for presents and snowmen ornaments.

It was the first of several Scout fund-raisers to raise $3,000 to pay for a camping trip to the Oregon coast next summer.

“Our whole troop talked about craft sales, yard sales,” said member Ashley Alecci. “It was closer to winter, so we thought of the Christmas bazaars.”

Down the street, three Kingston galleries — Earth Dance Studio, Liden Bode Studio and West First Street Gallery — were opening their doors to visitors.

Guest artist Sue Lahti, of Seattle, was cozied up in Marilyn Linden Bode’s studio, painting pictures of birds on hollowed eggs, allowing visitors to see how she painted intricate images on a difficult canvas.

“They are sweet and they are affordable,” she said. “People love eggs and people love birds and the egg shape is a comfortable (shape).”

The eggs come from hatcheries nationwide where owners determine which eggs will not survive the hatching process, then clean them out and sell them, Lahti explained.

Outside, despite the rain, a few residents even took advantage of the horse carriage rides and hayride tractor rides. But not many.

“Not a nice day (for people),” tractor driver Cliff Durant said. “Nice day for ducks.”

However, businesses along the carriage and tractor routes benefited.

“It’s been a better Saturday with this going on,” Kingston Pizza Factory owner Carol Dawson said. “We have people come in, even if to come in to just get warm.”

Cuppa Bella barrista Joanna Campy said the shop was hit early, as families were lined up in the store by 9:30 a.m., asking for many coffee drinks. The business quickly ran out of carriage ride tickets, too.

“(The carriages) helped a lot with business,” Campy said.

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