Candy cane event earns its stripes

POULSBO — The rain stopped just in time Sunday afternoon for one of Little Norway’s final holiday events before next weekend’s big day — the first ever candy cane hunt at Raab Park.

Put on by the City of Poulsbo Parks and Recreation Department, which also coordinates the city’s annual Easter Candy Hunt, organizers weren’t sure what response to expect but were pleasantly surprised.

“We were both really scared (this) being the first annual candy cane hunt and we are so thrilled that so many people came out,” said co-organizer Robin Cantwell, who worked with fellow city parks and rec employee Marla Harkleroad on the event. “It will be a great new annual event for Poulsbo.”

Grassy areas near the park’s picnic shelter were sectioned off by age and when the hunt began, it didn’t take long for kids to grab as many candy canes as they could.

Poulsbo dad Matthew Holt said it was a great chance to get the family out of the house and enjoy the brief break in the rain.

“This is a first for them also. This is really neat,” he added about the event as he watched his son, 2-year-old Jonathan Holt, pick up as many candy canes as he could.

Karen Vanderpol of Poulsbo said her 22-month-old daughter, Krysta, was learning to share as the toddler gave fellow candy cane hunter, 16-month-old Carolanne Payton, one of her finds.

“It’s something she can do,” Vanderpol said of Krysta’s participation in the event. “She’s so small.”

When kids found out they could make reindeer food, they quickly lined up at a picnic table under the shelter to create the special snack for Santa’s helpers. They put together scoops of oatmeal, red, green and white sugar crystals and “three shakes of sugar snow” into a small bag and attached a tag to it with directions on how to use it.

“(The kids) know about this stuff,” Cantwell said. “They know the reindeer will come if they put this on your lawn.”

Sure enough, while 6-year-old Morgan Goodfellow of Poulsbo had never made it before, she quickly figured out what it would do.

“The reindeer, they fly down and they go and eat the food,” she explained. “They think it’s yummy.”

The Poulsbo Fire Department also showed up with Santa Claus, who greeted the kids and listened to Christmas lists. Kathy Currie, a storyteller with the Jewel Box Theatre’s Bards By The Bay, did an animated rendition of “T’was The Night Before Christmas” and members of the North Kitsap High School Choir entertained the crowd with carols.

The crew from Poulsbo Starbucks was on the scene as well, keeping everyone warm with hot chocolate and coffee and also took toy donations for the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation, an international non-profit charity. Toy drive coordinator Julie Longstreet said the goal was 200 for this year and as of Sunday evening, they were at 186 toys had been collected.

“I’ve really been wanting to meet that goal,” she said.

Poulsbo Starbucks will continue to take toy donations through Dec. 24 at its location in Poulsbo Village.

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