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In Bremerton, a double dose of Christmas spirit

Bremerton Harborside Park lights up with an array of holiday color. - Jesse Beals/File 2007
Bremerton Harborside Park lights up with an array of holiday color.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/File 2007

Christmas spirit will be on full display in Bremerton on Saturday, Dec. 6 as both the Bremerton Mainstream Association (BMSA) and the Manette Business Association prepare for Santa's arrival at a pair of holiday gatherings separated only by the Manette Bridge.

The holiday fun in downtown Bremerton kicks off at 5 p.m., while Manette's Winter Fest is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m.

"The BMSA does the Santa arrival in downtown Bremerton each year," BMSA Executive Director Carol Atkinson said, noting the event has been a staple of the holiday season for about 20 years now. "This event kicks off the Christmas season downtown and brings many people to the area and we hope they will also return to support the shops and continue to return after the event."

Through the years the event has seen several changes including the relocation of the city's Christmas tree from Fourth Street in front of the old city hall building to the front of the Naval Museum of the Pacific at the intersection of First Street and Pacific Avenue, Atkinson said.

"It is a beautiful 35-foot tree and very impressive with all the lights," she said. "I have learned that we must work with change and make the best of it."

Having both the new Bremerton Marina, which was completed this past summer, and the naval museum have been positives for the event, she explained.

"Last year the area of the tree lighting was packed with people coming from all areas and am sure they contributed to some of it," she said.

This year, the Bremerton tunnel project will once again impact the event, but Atkinson said despite the challenges the construction presents, the event will go on as planned.

For as much as things have changed over the years, some elements of the event haven't changed like the Bremerton High School band greeting Santa upon his arrival and leading the procession to Westsound Bank at the intersection of Sixth Street and Pacific Avenue. There, Santa will light another tree and have pictures taken with children, she said.

Westsound Bank is the event's main sponsor and the first 150 children will receive free pictures with Santa, she said, adding the event receives help from the city's police, fire, parks and public works departments.

Puget Sound Energy came through with more lights for the city's Christmas tree as well, she said.

"Change is inevitable," Atkinson said. "We sure have learned that in downtown Bremerton. It just keeps getting better and more improved."

In Manette, Domstadst Park will be the center of the holiday fun as the Community Carolers will perform songs of the season beginning at 5:30 p.m. before Santa's grand entrance parade leads the way to the tree lighting at 6 p.m.

"We have a strong sense of community in Manette and 'Magic in Manette' is an evening to celebrate our sense of community and kick off the holiday season together," event organizer Jennie Wetter said.

The feature entertainer is Brian Dent a.k.a. “Little Elvis.”

"At just 6 years of age, Brian has been charming audiences with his amazing Elvis impersonation show since he was 2 and he is certain to steal the show for 'Magic in Manette,'" she said.

The event also is a time to support local businesses as Manette businesses have created a discount shopping coupon book available for pick up during the festivities, she said.

While supporting local businesses, guests are encouraged to participate in the food drive for the Salvation Army being held in conjunction with the holiday festivities, Wetter said.

"There are hundreds of local families desperately in need of help and the Manette Business Association wants to use our community celebration as an opportunity to assist," she said. “'Magic in Manette' is a perfect time to bring your non-perishable items to help restock the food bank at The Salvation Army."

Chestnuts will be “roasting on an open fire,” and will be given out free in exchange for donating non-perishable food items or a cash donation to the Salvation Army.

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