Sounds of the season ring out this weekend on Whidbey
— Created November 29, 2023 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
There is no shortage of holiday fun to be had on Whidbey Island this weekend! There are concerts, carol sing-alongs, tree lightings, parades and more:
Bells of Whidbey
The Bells of Whidbey will ring in the holidays with the group’s second annual Christmas concert at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 555 SE Regatta Dr., Oak Harbor. Admission is by donation and all donations will benefit Habitat for Humanity of Island County.
This is the group’s second annual holiday concert and it is entitled “Home for the Holidays.”
“Since we selected Habitat for Humanity as our organization for this program, ‘Home for the Holidays’ seemed like a very appropriate title for our program and part of our repertoire,” said Cheryl Waide, Bells of Whidbey director. “We also will ring other pieces that relate to home: ‘Over the River and Through the Woods,’ with thoughts of Grandma’s house; while ‘Let It Snow’ and ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ conjure up thoughts of a cozy and warm home. And that is our vision, that more families will have a new home this season. Liz Chaffin, chief development officer of Habitat for Humanity of Island County, will be on hand to share what’s happening on Whidbey Island.
“We’ve also thrown in a classic for the young and young at heart, an upbeat version of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town!’” she continued. “This seemed appropriate, since we precede the Oak Harbor Christmas parade and tree lighting on Pioneer Way.”
Since forming about a year-and-a-half ago, the group has been pleased to lend a fundraising hand to causes like SPiN Café in Oak Harbor and Gifts from the Heart Food Bank in Coupeville.
“We hope that we have in some way increased public awareness about the causes we’ve championed,” Waide shared. “We know that needs continue to be great on Whidbey and we hope we are helping, in a small way, by calling attention to the various agencies who lead the way in supporting these needs.”
Anyone interested in becoming part of the Bells of Whidbey can call Waide at 541-272-7478 for more information. The ability to read music is required, as is regular rehearsal attendance. Experience ringing handbells is helpful, but not required.
Clinton Arts District Grand Opening
Holiday carols will play a big role in the grand opening celebration of the Clinton Arts District Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 4777 Commercial Street.
All are invited to enjoy free hot food and warm cider while exploring four new art galleries and studios and five new businesses. The community is also invited to join in a carol sing-along, set to begin at 2 p.m.
Organizers of the event say this updated space is just the beginning of what they hope will be a newfound appreciation of Clinton as a Whidbey Island destination.
“There’s no reason why Clinton has to be considered some place to drive through, when it has the potential to be a true destination, the first place people want to stop when they get off the ferry,” said Cormac McCarthy, a local artist and owner of one of the fine art galleries in the updated plaza, which is located behind the food mart.
The plaza is also home to Louie Rochon Fine Art, Melissa Koch Fine Art and Myra Mae Studios, as well as five other retail businesses. McCarthy said Rochon was the driving force behind turning this plaza into something special for Clinton.
“There’s a real drive, dedication and work ethic to build a new, positive personality in Clinton,” he said. “Clinton is one of the oldest communities on the island. It was first established as a port town to ferry people here to fish. There’s a lot of old culture and history here, as well as a lot of very, very nice people with the passion and dedication to ignite the fire of Clinton’s potential.
“I’m not saying there was nothing here before us – it just needed support,” he continued. “It’s not going to happen this year and maybe not next year, but over time, as we build and change perception, I believe there is more potential here than honestly, anywhere on the island.”
The 15th annual Holly Jolly Parade in Langley will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday. This holiday tradition will include musicians, youth groups, families, pets and floats. The parade route will travel up and down First and Second Streets. A cash prize will be awarded for the “best” float or group.
Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting
The annual Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting in downtown Oak Harbor gets underway at 1 p.m. Saturday and there will be lots of entertainment leading up to the traditional Santa Parade and the tree lighting.
“We will have music inside Harborside Village from 1-3 p.m.,” said Oak Harbor Main Street Association Executive Director, Margaret Livermore. “There will be free cocoa and cookies at 810 SE Pioneer Way, suite 101. At 3:35 p.m., at the Pop-Up Plaza [at the corner of SE Pioneer Way and Dock Street] the Oak Harbor Intermediate School choir will perform. The Santa Parade starts at 4 p.m. and will travel from MidwayBoulevard to Ely Street. At the end of the parade, Santa will be riding on ‘Wally’ the fire truck. Santa will disembark at the corner of Dock and Pioneer Way and will walk back to Harborside Village to meet with the children.”
The Oak Harbor High School Choir will sing at the Pop-Up Plaza from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m. and then Santa will return to the corner of Dock and Pioneer to help light the Christmas tree. Immediately following the tree lighting, the OHHS choir will lead everyone in a round of “Deck the Halls,” Livermore said. Members of the Whidbey Playhouse cast of “A Christmas Carol” will perform some scenes from the classic holiday tale from 5:30 to 6 p.m.
The Oak Harbor Main Street Association’s Holiday Markets will also continue every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 17.
“The markets are located at 890 SE Bayshore Dr. #2,” said Livermore. “There are seven or eight vendors each weekend, selling things like honey, fudge, paintings, blankets, hooded towels and more.”
Coupeville Christmas Parade
The annual Coupeville Christmas Parade is set to take place Saturday at 4 p.m. This traditional parade features floats and entries all lit up for the holidays. The parade begins at First and North Main Streets, then winds its way down North Main to Front Street, to NW Alexander Street, crossing Coveland to end at the Coupeville library. Be on the lookout for a very special guest at the end of the parade.
Immediately following the parade, there will be a tree lighting and caroling at Cooks Corner Park.
Lighted Boat Parade
Speaking of being all lit up for the holidays, those interested can head to the Coupeville wharf at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday to enjoy the Oak Harbor Yacht Club’s Lighted Boat Parade. Decorated boats will leave Oak Harbor at about 4:30 p.m., but the best viewing is at the Coupeville wharf. Awards will be given for best decorated power and sail boats. In the event of inclement weather, the parade will take place Sunday.
Holiday at Hogwarts
Those venturing out for the Holly Jolly Parade in Langley can head over to the fairgrounds to spend the Holiday at Hogwarts from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. This free, family-friendly event will feature entertainment, hot chocolate and sweets for purchase, holiday shopping and more. Those attending are encouraged to dress as their favorite character from the Harry Potter book/movie series. Learn more at portofsouthwhidbey.com/event/holiday-at-hogwarts/.
Blue Fox Christmas Village
Enjoy the Christmas Village at the Blue Fox Drive In every weekend until Christmas. The village is open from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and Dec.18-21, and will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 22. There will be photo opportunities with Santa, animals, light displays, s’mores, and much more, including freshly-cut trees. Visit bluefoxdrivein.com/christmas-village for details.
Greenbank Farm Tree Lighting
Santa will be paying a visit to Greenbank Farm Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. The jolly old elf will arrive by tractor just in time for the tree lighting at 4:30 p.m. There will also be carolers and those attending can enjoy shopping at the Holiday Market.