West Seattle, Washington
-First, the non-merry note: After just 6 months, looks like Al’s Cafe & Espresso on Cali Ave north of Morgan Junction is out. We thought it seemed odd this morning to see it closed this morning when we stopped by during prime coffee time to check on its Christmas hours; drove past this evening, suddenly the sign’s gone from its window, and a light inside shows the place pretty much stripped bare. Tough location, with so much so close right at the Fauntleroy/Cali crossroads.
-Now, the holiday cheer: One more light display to recommend — 56th & Alki, Santa in the front yard on a brightly lit replica of construction equipment (with a sign for a construction company cleverly placed beneath it). And at 42nd & Raymond, we passed a parked pickup truck with HONK IF YOU LOVE SANTA written big and bold in the rear window.
-Just ’cause the power’s back doesn’t mean City Light crews’ work is done … saw a truck in action after 8 pm tonight, back at the scene of The Tree That Blocked Fauntleroy.
Anybody else feel like the storm, the resulting outage/damage/whatever happened at your place, and the ensuing uncertainty all took a bite out of the pre-holiday runup? By the time we finally got a chance to do a little shopping last night, the stuff our favorite gift recipients really wanted was gone. Sigh. And maybe today we’ll finally get the Christmas lights up. Not too many, don’t want to overload the grid. Speaking of which … City Light’s morning update says it’s down to 1,400 customers, and if you’re one of them, don’t assume they know you’re out, give them a call to be sure … 684-7400. P.S. When this is all over, it’s really going to be worth celebrating New Year’s, we think. So we’ve been collecting info on NY’s Eve events on our Holiday Stuff page, with several new additions last night; check it out.
-Tonight is the 47th/Admiral pedestrian-safety meeting.
-The White Center Food Bank told us they appreciate all the pre-Thanksgiving help and would be happy to take donations as they get ready for a pre-Christmas distribution this Wednesday. More turkeys! Here’s where to find the WCFB.
Since part 1 of our Christmas-lights search, our chances to keep scouring the streets have been limited by personal holiday activities (like getting a reasonably priced tree). But others have provided more info on WS lights for you to enjoy. For starters, one e-mail tipster mentioned that Fauntlee Hills is nicely lit as usual (here’s how to find that area), and it’s also written up in this region-wide Times roundup today (along with a few other WS spots). Yet another address is mentioned at the end of a touching letter-to-the-editor in this week’s Herald. We’ll be out searching again this weekend so please share your discoveries by e-mailing us.
In no particular order, here are the results of our first West Seattle Blog Posse Cruise for Christmas Lights. More to come …
BEACH DRIVE/ALKI/HARBOR: Sad to say you can drive the entire waterfront stretch without many significant sightings, except of course the brightest WS Christmas house of all, the Menashe mansionette on Beach Drive (a few blocks south of Shore Place). From there, we had to drive all the way to 1671 Harbor for anything on the waterfront worth writing home about (at least as of last night).
ALSO NOTABLE TO THE NORTH: A block on the west side of Walnut, south of Hinds, has several bright spots, as does a short stretch of 40th, north of Charlestown, and the east side of 41st, heading north from Manning. Then on the SW corner of 41st and Hinds, there’s a house with a novel deployment of light strands — two dangling in the air between the porch and the front-gate arbor, like power lines. Back on Walnut, we saw a few bright spots north of Stevens (back side of WS High School). (This map will give you a general guide to the entire area we just mentioned.)
THEN IN THE NORTHWEST QUADRANT: If you love the famous light-encrusted tree at Point Defiance Zoolights, you’ll love the tree outside a home on the west side of 45th, south of Lander (near Lafayette Elementary). And not far from there, 47th both just north and just south of Admiral impressed us too.
One more reminder, if you want to share a light location with your fellow West Seattleites, e-mail us and we’ll be thrilled to share.
Usually we just bring you pre-weekend “here’s what’s happening” blurbs. But so much is going on this week before the weekend, besides basic holiday stuff, so here goes:
–TUESDAY NIGHT: An e-mail tipster reports that West Seattle’s own Mac “Santa Mac” Macdonald is producing “Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas,” a benefit show at 7:30 pm @ McCaw Hall, and promises it’s “the most fun to be had this holiday season.”
–THURSDAY NIGHT: The next Junction Art Walk, 6-8 pm, starting at Divina, with 12 participating locations (we’ll post artist specifics by Thursday). Then get involved in civics and meander over to the Southwest Precinct at 8 pm as the city Design Review Board makes its pronouncement on the huge Fauntleroy Place development.
-Just back from our first official drive in search of WS’s best Christmas lights. Will post our findings sometime tomorrow. To generalize wildly — so far, the north side of WS appears to have many more lavish displays than the south side.
-Sorry if this is old news to Morgan Junctionites; just noticed the big CLOSED FOR REMODELING, REOPENING FALL 2007 signs in the windows of Washington Federal Savings at Cali & Fauntleroy. Somehow you gotta wonder, will they really reopen as a bank? That corner is so incredibly prime … you’d think those “mixed-use” developers would be clamoring for it.
-Earlier this fall, when we posted a few times about best-selling author Terry Brooks (who lives in WS at least part of the time), someone wrote to say that other best-selling authors live in WS, including a couple, Skye Moody & G.M. Ford. If that’s so, apparently they won’t be here much longer, according to her MySpace page, which mentions they’re moving to the Oregon Coast next month.
Just back from two of the Christmas Ship‘s three WS stops tonight (its WS finale for ’06 is tomorrow, Don Armeni, 7:10 pm, music by the Dickens Carolers, seen and heard in WS just last weekend for the Junction Tree Lighting). Missed the early stop @ Seacrest; intended just to enjoy the Lowman stop, but a member of the WSB entourage suggested we check out its Alki stop too, so off we went. At Lowman, the bonfire was the centerpiece, neatly held in a cordoned-off fire ring (obviously brought in by the parks crew, as fires otherwise aren’t allowed there), unlike a few years ago, when we remember a pile of pallets set ablaze with great abandon. At Alki, the non-cordoned bonfire was almost an afterthought at one heck of a party, with a live band on shore, a huge city-provided tent, and free cookies and cocoa/cider in Tully’s cups (amusing since the smaller tent next door belonged to Starbucks, offering tiny free samples of gingerbread lattes). We wondered between stops if the Vashon Island Chorale would sing the same half-dozen or so songs at both stops; answer: no. Just one overlap, the appropriate finale “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Big crowds at both stops, thanks to the cleared-up-in-time weather, and the Alki event had quite the afterparty going long after the Christmas Ship vanished into the downtown glow.
Taking a quick break from the tour of tree lots … so far, if your budget really requires the cheapest tree you can find, Home Depot is the place in WS (you can get a 6′ Douglas fir for about twenty bucks). More sites to visit, so that may not turn out to ultimately be the cheapest tree in WS, but in case you’re going out this afternoon, now that the rain has stopped (paused?), did want to mention it. We personally still mourn the old White Center Chubby & Tubby, where you could get a $5 “Charlie Brown style” scraggly little tree. More later …
This is the usual greeting over the loudspeaker from the Christmas Ship as it arrives at one of its stops, blazing with light, serenading everyone on shore with live Christmas songs from performers on board. And this is the big weekend for our part of town. Here’s hoping the weather won’t be too bad. First, on Saturday, the Christmas Ship (and whichever boats choose to accompany it) will pull up to Seacrest Pier at 5:15 pm, with Northwest Girlchoir Vivace performing. Then it goes back downtown to swap out choirs; with the Vashon Island Chorale on board, it’ll visit Lowman Beach at 8:50 pm Saturday, and then sail back along West Seattle’s west-facing shoreline, to reach Alki Beach for a stop at 9:40. All three of those stops are supposed to have bonfires, by the way. If you can’t catch the Christmas Ship on Saturday, it will make one more WS stop — Sunday, 7:10 pm, Don Armeni, also with a bonfire. The full schedule is linked from our WS Holiday Stuff page, as are other holiday activities in WS this weekend, including tonight’s tree lighting @ Our Lady of Guadalupe. (We’ll be out tree-shopping too, and planning to post a price-check here at some point!)
Just back from the 2nd annual West Seattle Tree Lighting extravaganza in The Junction, with a festive crowd of 200-plus people, literally chillin’ under an almost-full moon. Before the rest of the story, behold, the tree, seconds after the switch was thrown!
Surprise guest stars — retiring jeweler Jack Menashe and wife Linda triggered the tree, so appropriate since his light-encrusted home has already earned him the unofficial King of Christmas title ’round these parts. The other star of the night was MC Dow C, our King County councilguy, energetic yet unassuming as ever, no political puffery. (We agree with his observation that Shanon from Coffee to a Tea with Sugar, who sprinkled cookies among the crowd, had the outfit of the night — sorry we didn’t get a photo of her.) We missed the “Voices of Christmas” performers’ warmup act, but quite enjoyed the Dickens Carolers, who hit almost every known carol short of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” before taking a break for the Actual Lighting at 6:35, and managed to be completely unfazed when one of the many tiny tots in the crowd finally succeeded in his persistent quest to (briefly) unplug a speaker. Props to The Junction crew for a 2nd Tree Lighting that improved dramatically on the first. (Junction fun continues tomorrow with the Farmers’ Market, wagon rides, and Santa photos.)
Headlining these next three days is The Junction’s “Wonderful Weekend,” starting tonight with the open house involving many Junction stores and restaurants, continuing tomorrow night with the Tree Lighting, and wrapping up Sunday with wagon rides and Santa Photos @ Coffee to a Tea with Sugar. Also this weekend in The Junction, “Voices of Christmas” continues @ ArtsWest. We’ve got a ton of other holiday notes, including nonprofit wreath sales, on our WS Holiday Stuff page. (And if your weekend includes putting up Christmas lights, remember that we plan to list the biggest WS displays on that same page, so send us your address if yours qualifies, or that of anything else big, bright ‘n’ beautiful that you see ’round here.) Also this weekend — it’s Bingo Night tonight as part of the Fabulous Family Fridays series at High Point Community Center, volunteers are welcome Saturday at a Camp Long work party.
-West Seattle’s most famous Christmas display, at the Menashe house on Beach Drive (a mile or so south of Me-Kwa-Mooks), is up and running. Drove by tonight and noted a feature we don’t recall from previous years — a big star in one of the trees.
-The official WS Christmas tree is in place at the site of Saturday night’s big festivities on the north side of Alaska between Cali and 42nd (just east of the Cupcake Royale/Swee Swee Paperie/etc. building). This site is currently dubbed “Junction Plaza” but its official city page says they’re soliciting suggestions for what to name it — you’ve got about six weeks to throw your idea into the hopper.
-Confirmed a visitor’s tip that there is another WS Christmas-tree lot we hadn’t listed (till now) on our Holiday Stuff page — south side of Westwood Village, next to Sally’s Beauty Supply, where a couple more restaurants are set to be built next year.
Even as another snowburst headed our way, intrepid decorating crews toiled in the Junction, wrapping poles with white garlands leading up to illuminated … what else … snowflakes.
… the really bad weather should be done by this weekend, so we can all enjoy the 2nd annual West Seattle Tree Lighting (this time it’s going to be at 42nd & Alaska, and county councilguy Dow C will be the MC) on Saturday. But in the meantime, we’ve got near-record cold in the works for tonight (here at WS Blog World HQ it’s a three-cat night … oh wait, we need another cat for that) and supposedly some more snow to smack us all tomorrow night into Thursday morning, with a chaser of rain, just like the big melt of ’96 (remember that one? that’s the worst memory we can muster, having not been here for Bridge Sinking ’90).
This near-winter time of year, it’s tougher to get a chance to tour the town in daylight. So here’s what we spotted today while catching up:
-A new pedestrian stoplight is up (though the crosswalk’s not painted yet) at Fauntleroy & Kenyon, around midway down the east side of Lincoln Park. About time; without it, you’re taking your life into your hands if you try crossing Fauntleroy anywhere between the 76 station and the park’s southernmost parking lot. Looks like the Fauntleroy Community Association’s been campaigning about this problem for a long time, so perhaps we have them to thank. (Speaking of pedestrian safety, here’s your chance to make a BIG difference: The city’s Pedestrian Advisory Board needs new members, and Monday’s the application deadline.)
-What was Fauntleroy Auto Works (Cali Ave just north of Fauntleroy), future site of what we think of as the Monorail Memorial Park, is now a pile of rubble.
six seven places to buy Christmas trees in West Seattle, so far. (All are now listed on our ever-evolving West Seattle Holiday Stuff page.) Seems like fewer than years past, but as we realized while driving around, we’ve got fewer empty lots these days. P.S. The P-I mentioned the Holy Rosary lot today in a story about nonprofit tree sales.
Among many other blessings, we are thankful for you taking the time to stop by this site and see what’s up. (Otherwise, we’d be talking to ourselves, and heaven knows, we’ve done enough of that in our time on this planet so far.) We are also thankful to still be here in wondrous West Seattle … where you can see sunsets like this (photo by Lisa) and this (photo by Michelle) … where you can go for a summer swim at a pool like this … where you can find community groups like this and this, spending their “spare time” to nurture our neighborhoods … others banding together to caretake precious bits of urban wildness between the condos and the concrete … yet others who do what they can to share with those in need … We could go on all day, but we’ve got other things to do and so do you. Again — thanks.