Holiday activities galore to explore this weekend

— Created November 30, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

The holidays are no doubt a busy time for nearly everyone, but there is much to enjoy about the season. For those so inclined to take in some of the holiday fun, there is no shortage of activities to explore this weekend.

Festival of Trees is back!

The much-loved Festival of Trees, put on by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County is back. After two years of virtual fun, the 24th annual gala celebration will take place in person from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Elks Lodge in Oak Harbor.

“We are so excited be back in person with everybody in the  same room again,” said Tiffany Scribner, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County. “We were so lucky to have so many supporters during the last two years for our virtual event, but it is so exciting to be back.”

With the return to a live event comes the return of live trees, as opposed to artificial trees.

“We are thrilled to get to have those live trees again and fill the room with their wonderful, piney scent,” Scribner said. “We will have 14 trees, seven full size trees and seven table-top trees. They are still four to five feet tall, so the table top trees are still a big tree. They are pretty extravagant trees this year – people went all out with the themes and decorations.”

The Festival of Trees is BBBSIC’s biggest fundraising event of the year, according to Scribner.

“Historically, the Festival of Trees brings in over half of our annual budget, which is an enormous deal,:” she said. “It truly is the kind of event that can make or break our annual budget and the work we are able to do in the community. We provide our services for free. All our money comes in through donations and grants. It’s a very important part of our fundraising for the year for us to be able to continue the work we do for youth.”

Scribner said a snafu with invitations arriving late this year means there may still be some tickets left to attend the main event Friday evening. Cost is $125 per person for those 21 and older. Tickets can be purchased online while supplies last at (If a purchase won’t go through, it means the event is likely sold out.)

Community Day

The live FOT event Friday means the public viewing of the elaborate trees is also back this year. Trees will be on display for the public Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.

“I think these trees are a source of joy; they’ve been kicking off the holiday season for a lot of folks for many years,” Scribner said. “So many people were heartbroken we couldn’t have it in person. Even the decorators were heartbroken. I mean, think of the time it takes to put up your own tree, then multiply that by 10! It really warms the heart to be able to see those beautiful works of art. Hopefully it will warm hearts with holiday spirit.”

Teddy Bear Breakfast

But the Festival of Trees doesn’t end with the gala event Friday or even with the public viewing. Once again, the Teddy Bear Breakfast is back Saturday morning with two seatings at 9 and 10:30 a.m.

“Both seatings will feature the same live entertainment with magician JR Russell and the Teddy Bear and character parade,” Scribner said. “We encourage people to bring a stuffed animal to donate. Those donated will be taken to local first responders to give to children in a crisis situation.”

The Whidbey Island Pirates are sponsoring the Teddy Bear Breakfast this year. Cost to attend is $15 for those age 13 and older. Tickets for children 12 and under are $5. Please note, an adult must attend with the youth. Register for the Teddy Bear Breakfast online at

Mingle with Kringle

Rounding out the busy Festival of Trees this year is a new event Saturday evening from 6 to 10 p.m. Mingle with Kringle is a casual 21 and older evening featuring cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and yes, Santa will be there to put the Kringle in the Mingle.

“We took a look at the weekend – we have this amazing night Friday with the Festival of Trees, Saturday morning we have the Teddy Bear Breakfast followed by the Community Day in the afternoon – and we thought, ‘What happens to all the other folks who don’t have kids to take to breakfast, who don’t have a desire to get into formal wear or the money to pay $125 per ticket?  What are we doing to include them in the festivities?’ So, we’ve created Mingle with Kringle,” Scribner described. “We wanted to create something that would be a good date night.”

Tickets for Mingle with Kringle are $25 each and can be purchased online or at the door. Santa will be handing out gifts, there will be a photo booth, an ugly sweater contest and even a best holiday dress contest.

“That might be the prettiest emerald gown or your inflatable tree costume,” said Scribner. “Just your best holiday outfit.”

For those who can’t make it out this weekend, Scribner said there will also be an online silent auction that opens Friday and will run through Dec. 5. In addition to all of that, there is a quilt raffle as well. The drawing for the handmade quilt by Tamara Oaks will be held Dec. 15. Tickets are available at all the weekend events or at the BBBS office. Tickets are $25 each or five for $100. All proceeds benefit BBBSIC.

Information and tickets on all the Festival of Trees events this weekend is available online at

Other Events Around the Island

Here Comes Santa Claus!

Langley’s Holly Jolly Holiday Parade will once again wind its way through Langley Saturday, starting at noon.

This free event features musicians, service and youth groups, pets, families and floats and a festive holiday atmosphere. Parade lineup begins at 11 a.m. at the Langley Middle School bus barn, across from Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. The parade starts at noon and will follow a route up and down First and Second Streets. It’s not too late to enter – find the application online at

The Greening of Coupeville

It’s not the holiday season in Coupeville until the Greening. Enjoy the annual Christmas parade starting at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The parade begins at 1st and North Main Streets and continues to Front Street, onto NW Alexander and across Coveland Street, ending at the Coupeville Library. Be on hand to welcome a very special guest from the North Pole and enjoy decorated floats with holiday lights and more. Lighted entries have a chance to win a prize. Entry forms for the parade are available at the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce or online at

Immediately following the parade, the town’s tree lighting will take place at Cooks Corner Park. Enjoy some caroling to set the holiday mood.

Coupeville merchants encourage people to shop locally and will give shoppers a red ticket for every $20 spent at participating stores through Dec. 17. The Red Ticket Drawing for cash awards of up to $1,500 will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 18. Must be present to win, be 18 years or older and love Coupeville. The Red Ticket Drawing is sponsored by the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association.

Oak Harbor’s Home for the Holidays

There is plenty going on in downtown Oak Harbor Saturday. There will be a holiday open house at participating merchants from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy live music at Harborside Village from 2 to 3 p.m., and free cocoa, cookies and photo booth at 810 SE Pioneer Way from 3 to 5 p.m.

All of this, of course, leads up to the Santa Parade and Tree Lighting starting with live entertainment at 4 p.m.

“The Santa Parade starts at Midway around 5 p.m. and travels west on Pioneer Way,” described Margaret Livermore, executive director of the Oak Harbor Main Street Association. “Downtown elves and Planet Fitness will help welcome Santa as he arrives on Wally the Firetruck. The parade stops at the holiday tree at the corner of Pioneer Way and Dock Street. The tree lighting will be around 5:15 or 5:30 p.m.”

Following the tree lighting, In Motion Dance will perform and Santa will visit with children inside Harborside Village.

As one strolls through downtown, it’s hard to miss the hand painted Toy Soldiers lining the way. Everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite.

“There is a link on Oak Harbor Main Street event page under Toy Soldier,” Livermore said. “It links you to Survey Monkey to vote.  Also, there will be QRS codes on the two white toy soldiers that invite you to vote.  New toy soldiers are on the fence between Allure and Dock St.”

Shoppers, don’t forget about the Green Ticket Giveaway, either, for a chance to win cash prizes ranging from $100 to $1,000. For every $20 spent at participating businesses through Dec. 16, shopers get one green ticket. The drawing will be held at 4 p.m. Dec. 17 on Facebook Live. Winning nmbers will be posted on the Oak Harbor Main Street Facebook page, the website and at the OHMS office. Winners have until 5 p.m. Dec. 21 to claim their prize.

“I think people like to support local businesses and enjoy the holiday decorations and events,” Livermore said of what people enjoy about Home for the Holidays. “It helps me get in the spirit of the holidays and we hope it will do the same for others.”

Lighted Boat Parade

Finally, the evening will wind down in Oak Harbor and Coupeville with the Oak Harbor Yacht Club’s lighted boat parade. Cross your fingers for calm weather, because Mother Nature can affect this island tradition.

“The Parade has been going on for at least 35 years or more,” said Byron Skubi, one of the event organizers. “I can remember participating in the late 1980s and I am sure it was going on before that. Unfortunately, due to the unpredictability of the weather in December, late cancellations have happened. We don’t cancel for rain. or even snow, but we have had to cancel on a number of occasions for high winds.”

The parade is expected to leave around 4:30 p.m. from and have about a dozen or so participants, according to Skubi.

“We can usually count on about 10-15 boats participating, and some of the decorations are pretty innovative,” he said. “The parade leaves the Oak Harbor Marina at dusk, follows the north shore of Penn Cove as far as Monroe Landing, then crosses the Cove to Coupeville, making one or two passes by the Coupeville wharf at about 5:30 – 5:45 p.m., then heads back to Oak Harbor.”

Skubi said the best place to watch the parade is at the Coupeville Wharf, because the boats can get closer to the wharf than they can get to the shore in Oak Harbor due to water depth. Either way, onlookers and participants love it.  

“For the parade participants it is usually exciting to see a large, cheering crowd as we pass the Coupeville wharf,” he said.