No excuse for boredom Dec. 6: Monroe, Sultan to celebrate holiday season openers

With the Thanksgiving holiday safely behind us, it's now time to start contemplating fragrant pine trees, brightly colored lights, festive holiday treats, spicy eggnog, shopping and everything else that goes along with Christmas.
When it comes to shopping, holiday festivities and family activities in the Sky Valley area, there are numerous upcoming opportunities which will propel you and your loved ones directly into the holiday season, ready or not.
This week, we are highlighting several different events that will be taking place on Saturday, Dec. 6, to help put you on the fast track to holiday cheer.
Event: Toys for Tots Charity Football Game
Time and location: 2 p.m. at Monroe High School
Address: 7001 Tester Rd. in Monroe
The Snohomish County Vikings minor league football team will be challenging the Puyallup Nation Kings during this charity football matchup. The purpose of the game is to collect toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, which then distributes the toys as Christmas gifts to families in need. The drive benefits families who reside in the community in which the toy drive is conducted.
Suggested admission to the game is one new, unwrapped toy. Cash donations will also be accepted.
The Snohomish County Vikings football team is a member of the Pacific Football League. The team, a registered nonprofit agency, strives to provide support to various different charitable causes.
Event: JR Phinickey's 9th Annual Christmas Auction, Toy Drive and Spaghetti Feed
Time and location: 2 p.m. at JR Phinickey's
Address: 18960 U.S. 2 in Monroe
Donations of toys and cash will be taken all afternoon and evening at JR Phinickey's, which is located behind the Buzz Inn. All proceeds from the event will go to families in need in the local community. JR Phinickey's is currently seeking additional auction items. For more information call 360-794-6026.
Event: Dakota's Country Christmas Benefit
Time and location: 7:30 p.m. at Wagner Performing Arts Center
Address: 639 W. Main St. in Monroe
Local country singer Dakota Neuman will perform during this holiday show which will feature special guests Marlin James, the Monroe High School Choir, dancers from the Platinum Dance Center, the West Coast Country Heat dancers and more. Admission to the concert is $7 at the door, with $1 off for guests who bring a food donation. All proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Sky Valley Food Bank and the Monroe Arts Council.
For more information on Dakota Neuman, please visit:

Event: Sultan's Winterfest
Time and location: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sultan High School
Address: 13715 310th Ave. S.E. in Sultan
The Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce would like to invite everyone to kick off their holiday shopping by supporting local artists and entrepreneurs. Sultan's Winterfest holiday bazaar will feature over 80 different craft, business and fine arts booths. Free activities will be available for kids including a free bouncy house, arts and crafts, Christmas tree ornament making and more. Live music and other performances will be ongoing throughout the day, and Santa Claus will be on hand for photographs.
"We've got all kinds of free things for the kids to do,GÇ¥ said Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Debbie Copple. "Along with a really interesting selection of vendors.GÇ¥
Lunch will be served by Sultan High School parent volunteers to raise funds for Sultan High School's Safe and Sober Grad Night event.
Winterfest sponsors include Snohomish County Fire District #5, Sultan Chiropractic, Country Financial, R. Heritage Farm, Crosswater Community Church, Players Music Mart, Coastal Community Bank, SDC Concrete, the Mountain View Diner in Gold Bar and Summit Rehabilitation.
This year's event will feature a "Stuff the TruckGÇ¥ initiative, giving the community the opportunity to support the Volunteers of America Sky Valley Resource Center and the VOA's Sultan Food Bank. Food donations will be accepted, along with new clothing and toy donations for the Dave Wood Giving Tree program which benefits low income Sky Valley children, providing them with Christmas gifts.
Winterfest will also include numerous raffles and various opportunities to win prizes.
"Each time you make a purchase or donation, you will be entered to win two ski passes and a one-night accommodation at the Dutch Cup Motel,GÇ¥ said Sky Valley Chamber Events Coordinator Elizabeth Emmons. "The winner will be announced at the tree lighting celebration at 6 p.m. at the Sultan Gazebo.GÇ¥
Additionally, the VOA will be holding a special raffle for a pair of Seahawks tickets. The raffle will raise money specifically to support VOA services in the Sky Valley.
For more information, contact the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce at 360-793-0983.
Event: Sultan's Tree Lighting Celebration
Time and location: 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sultan Gazebo
Address: Near First and Main Streets in Sultan
Once folks get their fill of shopping at Winterfest, then it's time to head down to the Sultan Gazebo for free hot chocolate, spiced cider and cookies. Guests can get cozy around several bonfires, nibble on cookies and wait for Santa and Mrs. Claus to arrive. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be ushered in at 6:30 p.m. escorted by Snohomish County Fire District #5, who will drive them to the event on a fire truck.
"Then we'll flip the switch and all the lights will come on, and we'll start the karaoke sing-along,GÇ¥ said Copple. "We thought a sing-along would be a better way of getting people involved in the celebration, as opposed to just watching others perform. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone belt out some Christmas carols!GÇ¥
This year's holiday karaoke sing-along event will be emceed by Players Music Mart owner Randy Oesch.

Event: Christmas Trees and "Samta ClawsGÇ¥
Time and location: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sam's Cats and Dogs, Naturally
Address: 20016 Old Owen Rd. in Monroe
Families wishing to pay sufficient homage to their four-legged family members this holiday season should definitely plan on stopping by Sam's Cats and Dogs, Naturally, for custom holiday pet portraits. Perch your dog or cat up on Samta's knee, add your kids, and get ready to smile. To reserve a spot on Samta's lap, please call 360-805-5060.
Samta Claws photos are $20.
After they visit Samta Claws, families can peruse Sam's and Big Dog's selection of freshly cut, local Christmas trees. Noble fir trees up to seven feet in height are available for $45, and trees over seven feet are $55. Twelve and 18-inch wreaths are available, along with a custom wreath-making station.
The Christmas tree lot is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from 2 to 7 p.m. during the week.
"Samta ClawsGÇ¥ will take place on Saturday Dec. 6 and Sunday, Dec. 7. The Christmas tree lot is a collaborative effort between Sam's Cats and Dogs Naturally and Big Dog's Hot Dog Joint.
For more information on Sam's Cats and Dogs, Naturally, please visit: For more info on Big Dog's Hot Dog Joint, please visit:
Event: Morning Star Lutheran Church's Global Gift Fair
Time and location: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Park Place Middle School
Address: 1408 W. Main St. in Monroe
The 8th annual Global Gift Fair will include 19 different vendors. "Every vendor there is representing a cause and all money spent goes to a nonprofit organization,GÇ¥ said Kathi Cooley, one of the event's coordinators.
International causes will be represented, as well as local ones including Monroe's Cold Weather Shelter, the Brown Bag Brigade and Take the Next Step. Global organizations such as Ten Thousand Villages, Ukush, Heifer International and African Team Ministries will be present at the event.
Additionally, live music, soloists and speakers will be performing on the stage in the commons area. Soup, pie and beverages will be available for sale all day, with all proceeds going towards the church's mission trip to Detroit.
"Soups range from African Peanut Sweet Potato to Ham and Rice,GÇ¥ said Cooley. "Pies are all fresh and delicious.GÇ¥
Admission to the gift fair is free, as is vendor participation. Christmas music will be playing all day and Morning Star Church would like to invite everyone to stop by.
For more information on the gift fair, please contact Morning Star Church at 360-794-2111.
Event: Monroe Holiday Extravaganza including Artisan Bazaar and Christmas Tree Lighting
Time and location: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in downtown Monroe
Address: 114 N. Lewis St. in Monroe and Main Street
The Monroe Chamber of Commerce is coordinating a day full of holiday festivities including shopping, bonfires, tractor-pulled wagon rides, children's activities, music, Santa Claus, food vendors, paintballing, and much more.
Additionally, Executive Director Una Wirkebau-Hartt wants to assure everyone that there is a 100 percent chance of snow in the forecast! Taking the unpredictability of the weather into consideration, she has coordinated a snow machine, which will be operating at various times throughout the day.
"The snow is actually Hollywood snow so it melts when it hits the ground,GÇ¥ said Wirkebau-Hartt.
The snow machine will be situated on the corner of Lewis and Main Street, in the parking lot directly across the street from Adam's Bistro. There will be a stage set up there for live musical performances which will be ongoing throughout the day.
There will also be free tractor-pulled wagon rides which will traverse Blakeley Street, and Wirkebau-Hartt is hoping that homeowners will accommodate the touring guests by decorating the outside of their homes with lights and other holiday decor. To incentivize this, she is holding a contest which will entail some type of accolades being given to the merriest residence.
She is also working on organizing a petting zoo which will feature Charles in Charge, a pot-bellied pig and beloved family pet who lives in Monroe.
Free paintballing will take place in the Monroe Chamber of Commerce parking lot, which is located east of Main Street on Lewis. The activity is being coordinated by Eastside Paintball, one of the holiday event's sponsors.
In addition to everything that is happening on or around Main Street, a live radio broadcast will be airing from sometime in the early afternoon at the Junction. Also in the Junction, the Shop Here, Buy Local Artisan Bazaar, which began on Saturday, Nov. 29, will continue. The bazaar will feature numerous vendors, giving guests the opportunity to purchase locally-made, handcrafted items.
And since no Christmas celebration would be complete without Santa Claus, Wirkebau-Hartt has scheduled the Jolly One to appear, as well. Mr. Claus will arrive at the Monroe Fire Department at 10:30 a.m. and at approximately 10:45 will be escorted throughout several city neighborhoods on a fire truck. He will be dropped off after 11:00 a.m. at the Junction.
"The truck will pull up on Lewis and drop him off at approximately 11:15,GÇ¥ said Wirkebau-Hartt. "He'll then be on the stage inside the Junction for free photos.GÇ¥
Photos with Santa can be taken for free by families, and there will be an option to have them taken and printed immediately, a service for which the chamber will be requesting donations. Santa Claus will be available for photos until 5:45 p.m., and then he will join Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas outside for a brief presentation before the tree lighting.
After the tree has been lit, guests will be invited to linger until it's time for Dakota Neuman's performance at 7:30 p.m. at the Frank Wagner Auditorium.
For more information on Monroe's Holiday Extravaganza event, contact the Monroe Chamber of Commerce at 360-794-5488 or go to the Monroe Chamber of Commerce website at
Main Street will be closed as of 8 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6, to give vendors the opportunity to get set up.


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