OCEAN PARK — The Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce decided this year to move its official Community Christmas Tree lighting into a sheltered venue.
The tree’s beautiful ornaments made by the students of Ocean Park Elementary have in past years sometimes been ruined by winter weather.
On Dec. 6 at 6 p.m., festivities surrounding the Ocean Park Area Community Tree Lighting and Santa’s Workshop will take place at a new location, the Port of Peninsula on Willapa Bay.
“Wind, rain and cold temperatures have been a challenge for the tree lighting for years,” said Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce office manager Karen Boardman. “Whether we were at the Eagles or our recent move to the field across from the elementary school, weather was not our friend.”
Cold, often wet conditions faced when decorating the tree morphed into cold, wet and miserable conditions for the lighting and caroling. The carefully created ornaments made by the students were tattered or blown away in a very short time and the tree was bedraggled by the time Christmas arrived. Having the accompanying Santa’s Workshop at the fire station added timing and logistical worries to the fray.
“We were in a position of repeating the same thing or finding something better. You know the definition of crazy — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome,” said OPACC President Vince Stevens. “It was time for a better plan.”
The first thing addressed was the participation by students at Ocean Park Elementary. After consulting with then-Principal Todd Carpenter, it was decided the chamber would gift the students a large, pre-lit tree they could decorate, enjoy and display to street-side motorists through the large windows of the school’s office. No longer limited to wood, metal or plastic to make their ornaments, design options will open to more fragile materials with the added bonus that the ornaments will survive the tree, allowing students to take their work home at the holiday break.
By moving the tree and workshop to the port, sheltered under an enormous tent with a view of the bay and the historic dredge Mae West oyster boat/community stage lit up in holiday lights, the event will be safe from weather destruction and discomfort. The community will be able to view the tree throughout the holiday season and enjoy opportunities for family photos, picnics, storytelling and more on their own schedules.
The Dec. 6 celebration includes the excitement of Santa arriving to light the tree and visit with children, caroling, tables sponsored by community groups with fun, children oriented crafts to make and take, cookies, cider and nibbles to share and a sharing of community and holiday cheer. Plans are already underway to expand the event in 2020. Ideas such as the addition of local artisans and local restaurant bites; a grove of smaller trees decorated by family groups, businesses and community organizations to surround the main tree; live music; readings of Christmas favorites; and expanded event schedules up to Christmas Eve are some considerations already being brought forth.
The event is sponsored by the Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce, Fire District #1 and the Port of Peninsula. Many community groups and organizations, as well as individuals, also contribute to the event. The Port of Peninsula is located at the Nahcotta Boat Basin, 275th and Sandridge Road. For more information or if you would like to help, contact the Chamber at 360-665-4448, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.