Santa by the Sea, crafts bazaar set for Westport this weekend

Holiday spirit is coming early to Westport this weekend, with a couple notable events scheduled — Santa by the Sea and a holiday bazaar featuring numerous artists and craft stations, all with a backdrop of Christmas music.

Santa by the Sea, a tradition in Westport dating back more than 25 years, involves the jolly old man slipping into the Westport Marina on a Coast Guard ship to the delight of kids and families eager to snap a picture with him.

After coming in to dock Saturday at 10:30 a.m., surrounded by elves and volunteers dressed as pirates, Santa then exits the ship and takes some photos before getting a ride from the fire department on a truck to the Westport Maritime Museum, where he sits and greets children from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Aside from pictures, the museum also provides a holiday store, exclusive to kids, where they can do their Christmas shopping. All the items are donated, and kids are escorted by dressed up elves who help them find the perfect gifts for their family and friends.

Jill Dubois, the president of the nonprofit service group South Shore Buccaneers, has managed Santa by the Sea for the past 10 years, and said she always gets joy from seeing the same kids every year.

“I’ve seen the same kids for the last 10 years,” said Dubois. “So I’ve seen them grow up and coming back every year to do their Christmas shopping and see Santa. It’s pretty fun to see them grow up and see how so happy it makes them for Christmas and the excitement they get.”

Dubois said on good weather days they’ve seen more than 300 kids show up for Santa’s arrival from the sea. Her group, South Shore Buccaneers, also hosts various food drives and participates in parades in the Westport area, all of which feature volunteers dressed up as pirates to spark some excitement.

Also this weekend is the inaugural Holiday Bazaar at Chateau Westport. More than 20 vendors for arts, craft-making, and even gourmet fudge will be at the event that runs Saturday and Sunday.

Chaney Klespitz, the Chateau’s social media and marketing director, said it was an idea to generate more activity during winter months that received immediate interest from local artists and vendors.

“Everyone fell out of nowhere, we put in on Facebook in September, and we had lots of people saying ‘I want to do it!’” said Klespitz.

The event is being advertised to any and all age groups, as there will be hands-on booths for ornament and T-shirt making, and another more untraditional Santa from the sea who Klespitz described as “an old father Christmas, kind of English fisherman type.”

Other booths will include woodwork holiday signs, dolls and scarves, jewelry, cocoa and cider, handmade soaps and lotions, and much more from vendors hailing from both Grays Harbor and beyond.

Klespitz hopes the event is successful so they can continue it next year and generate more wintertime activity. It’s a free event and runs Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.