By Miriam Raftery
November 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- This special edition of Destination East County features seasonal and holiday events, real and virtual, to brighten up your holiday season even amid a pandemic. Many are online, others are drive-through or provide social distancing and other precautions to celebrate the season in festive outdoor settings.
Events coming up include a virtual version of the Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon, “a satirical play titled "November" produced online by San Diego’s Trinity Theatre, fireworks for Santee's 40th birthday celebration, a drive-up holiday bonfire in Lemon Grove, La Mesa’s Holiday in the Village complete with craft market, Santa at the Lakes in Santee, the Enchanted Village drive-through holiday lighting extravanganza at Noah’s Homes in Spring Valley, more holiday lights at Starlight Circle and Lantern Crest in Santee, a Thanksgiving Turkey Bash and Christmas with the Animals at Lions, Tigers and Bears in Santee, plus real and virtual visits with Santa Claus via Parkway Plaza in El Cajon.
Scroll down for full details on all of these fun and festive holiday season happenings.
MOTHER GOOSE PARADE MARCHES ONLINE NOV. 22
East County's holiday favorite Mother Goose Parade, traditionally held the Sunday before Thanksgiving, is going to look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic when it takes place.
Virtually on Sunday, November 22nd, on San Diego's KGTV-TV Channel 10News.com, starting at 1 p.m. It will be an exciting video montage of past parades so everyone can still enjoy the parade, but safely.
The parade, the largest holiday season parade west of the Mississippi, has been a community tradition for 74 years. Despite having to cancel the celebration, which traditionally winds down the main streets of downtown El Cajon, parade organizers anticipate the broadcast will still be a festive experience marking the beginning of the holiday season.
The Mother Goose Parade organizers expect to return in 2021 with a bigger than ever 75th Anniversary celebration of the parade.
For more information, visit www.mothergooseparade.org.
NOVEMBER: A SATIRE PLAY ON ZOOM NOV. 28
Trinity Theatre of San Diego invites you to join in a Zoom production of “November,” a new oval office satire by playwright David Mamet. The play has one virtual showing left on Saturday, November 28th at 7 p.m.
It depicts one November day in the life of a beleaguered American commander-in-chief as the presidential election approaches. Incumbent Charles Smith's chances for reelection are looking grim. Approval ratings are down, his money's running out, and nuclear war may be imminent. Though his staff has thrown in the towel and his wife has begun to prepare for her post-White House life, Smith isn't ready to give up.
Amidst the biggest fight of his political career, the President has to find time to pardon a couple of turkeys before Thanksgiving — inspiring Smith to risk all in attempt to win back public support. November is a hilarious take on the state of America today and the lengths to which people will go to win.
For tickets to this comedic online production, you can visit https://trinityttc.org/.
SANTEE FIREWORKS DEC. 1 FOR CITY’S 40TH BIRTHDAY
Santee will celebrate its 40th birthday Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. by holding simultaneous fireworks displays at two sites, allowing residents a chance to cheer themselves while staying safely apart.
Fireworks will be shot off from both Town Center Park and West Hills High School. The locations are closed to the public due to COVID-19, but people can view the fireworks from their homes or any nearby location.
There will also be upbeat music to accompany the fireworks that watchers can access via a city website link to be posted before the event.
The city has also arranged with about a dozen local retailers to hand out official birthday sweets. A list of those retailers and more details are at the city’s website at www.cityofsanteeca.gov.
LEMON GROVE DRIVE-UP BONFIRE DEC. 4
Lemon Grove will warm up the holiday season with its 23rd annual bonfire on December 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be a drive-through event with festive lights, goody bags, special characters and a photo opportunity.
Drive-through in your vehicle (no walk-ups) at Treganza Heritage Park, 3200 Main Street in Lemon Grove.
LA MESA HOLIDAY IN THE VILLAGE DEC. 5
La Mesa will host its annual Holiday in the Village on December 5th from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., including a holiday craft market, approved by county health officials.
You’re invited to come ring in holiday cheer amid a jingly winter wonderland in La Mesa’s downtown village, where guests can enjoy holiday music, craft vendors, a food court and holiday joy globe photo station. See the Red Toy Soldier and Reindeer of Winter as you peruse the village.
To protect public health, temperature checks, masks and social distancing are required. There is no admission fee for this event, which you can learn more about at LaMesaVillageAssociation.org.
SANTA AT THE LAKES DEC. 6 IN SANTEE
Santa is coming to town on Sunday, December 6th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Santee Lakes (Lake 1 Gazebo). A physically distanced meeting and photo opportunity will be available with Santa.
A reservation to visit Santa is encouraged, however walk-up visits will be available throughout the day based on availability. Make your reservation to visit with Santa at https://santaatthelakes.setmore.com/
Photos will be available for purchase (1 5x7 for $12 or 2 5x7s for $20).
The health and well-being of guests, staff, and Santa are top priority, so physical distancing and facial coverings are required.
Gate Entrance is $6 and there are no pets allowed. Big Boyz will be selling tacos.
ENCHANTED VILLAGE IN SPRING VALLEY DEC. 18-23
Noah’s Homes in Spring Valley invites you to visit its Enchanted Village, a drive-through holiday lights extravaganza, December 18th through 23rd.
Guests will begin the holiday adventure at Steele Canyon High School and then travel through a winter wonderland complete with drive-through candy cane lighted tunnel, displays with over a half million lights, a towering musical Christmas tree, socially distanced interactions with an elf and themed zones such as Candyland and Holiday Under the Sea.
You can also enjoy holiday music and have photos taken with a digital Santa Claus added into your vehicle along with you and your household members.
All proceeds benefit Noah’s homes nonprofit housing and services for adults with disabilities. Over 1,800 vehicles are expected to visit and reservations are required. For tickets, you can visit www.EnchantedVillage.org.
STARLIGHT CIRCLE IN SANTEE DEC. 1-25
Santee’s Starlight Circle, a yearly holiday tradition of Christmas lights and decorations, will continue spreading holiday cheer during the pandemic. This year, visitors are encouraged to enjoy driving along Glendon Circle, located just off North Magnolia, in their cars for social distancing, instead of walking through the elaborate lighting displays.
There are no fees for this event, which is not organized by any group. Homeowners in the community typically have lights on starting December 1st through at least Christmas Day, December 25th , with lights on from around 5:30 to 10 p.m.
More information is available on the Facebook pages for Starlight Circle Santee. (https://www.facebook.com/starlightcirclesantee/).
HOLIDAY LIGHTS AT LANTERN CREST IN SANTEE THURSDAYS THROUGH SUNDAYS IN DECEMBER
Lantern Crest Senior Living in Santee will transform into a drive-through holiday extavaganza open to the public each Thursday through Sunday night in December from 6 p.m. to 8 p. m.
Guests will see holiday displays and light shows from the comfort of their cars, with no admission cost. There will also be a drive-up Santa's Workshop where you can purchase hot cocoa, apple cider, cheesecakes bites and more, as well as a photo booth. All proceeds will go to the Lantern Crest Foundation, which benefits low-income seniors in the San Diego area.
Lantern Crest is located at 300 Lantern Crest Way in Santee.
HOLIDAYS WITH THE ANIMALS AT LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS IN ALPINE NOV. 27-28 and DEC. 12
Lions Tigers & Bears, San Diego’s only accredited big cat and bear sanctuary, is welcoming guests to spend the holidays with its resident exotic animals.
A Thanksgiving Turkey Bash on Friday and Saturday,November 27th and 28th at 10 a.m. will include a holiday feast for big cats and bears including turkeys and stuffed pumpkins.
Christmas with the Animals on Saturday, December 12 at 12 noon, will bring holiday cheer as guests watch the animals open their Christmas gifts.
Lions Tigers & Bears Founder and Director Bobbi Brink says these festivities will provide social distancing for small groups this year and require face coverings due to the pandemic. She adds, “It’s extra special to see the lions leaping into the pool once a turkey is involved or to see the bears meticulously unwrap their Christmas gifts.”
For ticket information and reservations, visit https://www.LionsTigersandBears.org.
SANTA VISITS, REAL AND VIRTUAL, WITH PARKWAY PLAZA IN EL CAJON
Visiting Santa is a treasured holiday tradition. This year, despite a pandemic, Parkway Plaza regional shopping mall in El Cajon is making sure that every child can see Santa. With help from the elves and partners at Cherry Hill Programs, you can either visit Santa at the mall or online now through December 24.
For in-person Santa visits and photos, you can make an appointment online at shoppingparkwayplaza.com. Walk-ins will be taken on a space available basis, though children won't be sitting on Santa's lap this holiday season, due to social distancing needs.
Or you can sign up for a virtual holiday experience this holiday season. Reservations are limited for virtual Santa options, some of which are complimentary, while others have fees. Options include a live Zoom video call with Santa, virtual photos of kids or pets with Santa, story time with Santa and more.
To make a reservation for a virtual Santa visit, you can go to createholidaymagic.com.