Peninsula invited to nostalgic Christmas celebration on Dec. 14

Beautiful coastal weather combined with lousy skiing conditions in the mountains made for a busy Thanksgiving weekend on the Peninsula. Area beaches, shops and restaurants were crowded with people, such as Ocean Park residents Robert Brech and Misty Athey. CHRIS NIELSEN photo

KLIPSAN BEACH - What do two donkeys, 10 pounds of gumdrops, a 1934 fire engine and a pile of oyster shells have in common? Folks in the Ocean Park area have been dreaming up an "Old-Fashioned Community Christmas" event that includes a diversity of unique activities and entertainment to involve youngsters and oldsters alike.

Santa's helpers (Peninsula churches and the chamber of commerce) will begin decorating Christmas trees in five themes early on Saturday, Dec. 14. In addition, eight gingerbread houses created by bed and breakfasts on the Peninsula will also be displayed. This event will be held at the Peninsula Senior Center and doors will be open to the public at 10 a.m.

The Christmas trees and other items on display throughout the day will be auctioned to benefit various local charities including the ReachOut Food Bank, His Supper Table, a school construction bond, the Pacific County Humane Society, and the Peninsula Senior Center.

Everyone is invited to stop by and enter the bidding throughout the day or buy a raffle ticket for one of the gingerbread houses. Those attending the event are encouraged to bring a can of food, a baked good item to share, or a dollar donation

"This event is truly a community event. It was designed to involve everyone and give back to those among us who need it most," said Gwen Brake, the event organizer.

The day will begin with Christmas caroling. While everyone eagerly awaits the red-suited gentleman at 11 a.m., two burros will stand and wait as well. The petting zoo will be open from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Petting is encouraged.

This year, the Ocean Park Fire Department is dusting off its classic open-air fire engine for Santa's sleigh. The shiny red truck will be on display for the public to inspect. The question on fire chief O'Donahue's mind is, "Will they find a bow big enough?"

Lunch will be available at noon as well as some unique photo opportunities with a younger Santa's helper. Chuck Pliske and friends will provide noon-time concertina music. At 1 p.m., the River City Choir will sing six traditional Christmas carols. At 1:30 p.m., Santa will be available for special moments with seniors.

Four ongoing craft tables will involve participants. Everyone is invited to paint an oyster shell and hang it as a decoration on the community tree, or turn talents into creating a quaint holiday village out of paper sacks and doilies. Elves will be available to help the creative notions of children of any age as they create paper pinwheel ornaments and use rubber stamps to design Christmas cards for one another and shut-in seniors.

River City Steppers will perform at 2 p.m., followed by more Christmas caroling at 2:30 p.m. Ongoing children's activities will include balloon animal making, face painting, hacky-sack players and a storyteller.

Community tables will grace the east wall of the Senior Center. Various churches will be represented at one table - offering spiritual guidance and outreach. The humane society will bring a cage of kitties - a reminder of the importance of unconditional love.

The Eagles will provide hourly gifts for children at another table. The school construction bond team will also offer information and a small gift to all. Activities continue until 4 p.m.

Doors will re-open at 6 p.m. for a social hour, followed by a 7 p.m. sit-down dinner featuring turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, yams, vegetables, rolls, and bread pudding for dessert.

Cost of the dinner will be $10 and tickets may be purchased in advance at the Senior Center. Or call 665-2784 to make reservations.

"There's something for everyone to enjoy," said Gwen Brake. "Just come and sit by the 'fireplace' with us for a time. We promise to bring you some heart-warming moments in a season that is all too often lonely."

Pacific Transit will offer special transportation to seniors traveling from Surf Pines in Ilwaco and Westwind Manor in Long Beach. Pickup at Surf Pines will be 10:20 am. to 10:30 a.m.

Seniors from Westwind Manor will be picked up at the Bank of the Pacific at 10:35 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. Return trips will be at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Last Dec. 17, 140 Peninsula residents and guests gathered to honor 22 seniors from the Ocean Park area who have enriched Peninsula life as volunteers and community leaders. This year's event celebrates the Christmas season - reaching out to include everyone who loves our little corner of the world.

To find out how you can help create or promote this special day, contact Gwen Brake at 665-2784.

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