The Santa Ship will make its 53rd sojourn to San Juan Island, Saturday, Dec. 21.
That’s not a misprint. It truly is No. 53.
For more than half a century the Jolly ‘Ol Elf has sailed into Friday Harbor to grace the island with the special sort of holiday cheer that only he can deliver, collecting Christmas wishes and mingling with a throng of adoring fans as he goes, and double-checking to make sure who’s been naughty or nice.
If you’re not sure which of the two lists you’re on, it might be wise to get down to Spring Street Landing early to have enough time and space to make a good impression.
Look for Santa and his merry band of elves to make landfall at about 5 p.m.
After a meet-and-greet at the landing, it’s off to The Village at the Harbour and Friday Harbor Middle School for Father Christmas and crew, hitching a ride onboard a shining red and white fire engine and under escort of Friday Harbor’s finest.
The longest-running holiday tradition on San Juan Island, bar none, the Santa Ship is co-sponsored by the Lions and Kiwanis clubs.
But plan to stay for awhile, because festivities in the harbor continue even after Chris Kringle and company depart on their tour of the town.
The closing act of the evening’s double-bill is the indomitable Lighted Boat Parade.
Sponsored by San Juan Island Yacht Club, the annual parade features a flotilla of boats — large and small — decorated and illuminated in their holiday finest. The fleet sets sail from Shipyard Cove shortly after the arrival of the Santa Ship and make two tours of the harbor, passing twice within a few feet of Spring Street Landing, before setting course back to the cove, and safe passage beyond.