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Civic Christmas tree light Silverdale sky

Nighttime visitors to Silverdale get this glimpse of the huge Douglas fir Christmas tree towering over the southern end of Silverdale Way. The tree contains 450 lights and can be seen for miles. - Photo by Chris Onstott
Nighttime visitors to Silverdale get this glimpse of the huge Douglas fir Christmas tree towering over the southern end of Silverdale Way. The tree contains 450 lights and can be seen for miles.
— image credit: Photo by Chris Onstott

Cold, damp weather didn’t douse the spirits of the 300 people — mostly children — who turned out Saturday evening in the parking lot of the American Marine Bank to watch the 50th annual lighting of Silverdale’s Christmas tree. They also listened to caroling by the Brownsville Elementary School Choir and met Santa as he “flew” in on his sleigh.

Well, it wasn’t exactly a sleigh. The sleigh was in the shop for last-minute fine-tuning prior to Christmas and the reindeer are still stabled. Instead, Santa arrived in a big red fire engine — courtesy of CK Fire & Rescue.

The evening started at 5 p.m. with students caroling led by Shirley Jenkins. Hot coffee and cider were supplied by the Silverdale Kiwanis. The Douglas fir across Silverdale Way — allegedly the tallest Christmas tree in the world — was lighted at exactly 5:38 p.m. Santa arrived just before 6 p.m. with his elfin helpers, Silver and Dale. And the line to see Santa began to form before he got off the truck.

Hundreds of kids got a chance to ask for a favorite toy and get their picture taken with St. Nick.

Mike and Pam Rhodes of Silverdale were there with their children, Zachary, 8, and Luke, 3.

“Christmas is a time when family and friends get together and give the gifts that make others feel good,” said Mr. Rhodes. “It’s not necessarily the receiving of gifts that matters ... so much as being thankful for what you’ve got.”

Margaret McDaniel said Christmas is meant to celebrate the birth of Christ.

“If we can honor him by giving gifts, that’s just fine,” she said.

Lori Bryan attended as well.

“I’ve got the two little ones with me tonight,” she said, referring to Samuel, 8 months, and Bethany, 2.

“It’s his first Christmas, and the first Christmas she’ll have that she’ll understand,” she said, adding that her husband, Greg, just returned from a deployment on the Navy supply ship USS Bridge.

“We’ve managed to gather the whole family this year,” said Robin Johnson, there with wife Mary. “All 10 of us.”

He said that’s two daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren.

Mr. Johnson is president of the Dandy Lions Club of Silverdale.

Vanessa Moran was also there with her kids.

“I want my children to learn the value of giving.” Makayla, 8, and Elijah, 6, were patiently waiting to see Santa.

CK Community Councilman Hank Mann-Sykes emceed the tree-lighting ceremony. The tree on Anderson Hill Road was owned by Anita Holt, who died earlier this year, said Mann-Sykes. However, the tree lighting will continue in years to come, since the new land owner, Rick Leenstra, has given his thumbs up to the event. There are about 450 bulbs on the tree.

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