Holidays in East County 2015

NORAD TO TRACK SANTA FOR 60TH HOLIDAY SEASON

View preview video of Santa's flight (above)

East County News Service

December 23, 2015 (North Pole) – While Santa and his elves are busy preparing for their annual journey delivering gifts to children around the world, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has announced it will track Santa’s Christmas Eve flight once again for the 60th consecutive year.

On NoradSanta.org you can follow along as NORAD provides video tracking of Santa’s destinations on every continent. Kids and the young at heart can also play Christmas games, listen to songs, watch videos as Santa's sleigh passes landmarks across the globe, plus learn facts about Santa, NORAD and holiday traditions from around the world. NORAD's Santa Tracker is also available as an app for your Apple, Android and Windows devices. Twitter users can follow live updates from @NoradSanta on Christmas Eve.

GIFTS FROM THE EAST: OUR 2015 LOCAL GIFT-GIVING GUIDE

By Miriam Raftery

December 22, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- If you’re looking for a special gift for someone on your list, here are a few ideas available right here in East County that show the uniqueness of our region. This year's options range from savoring the fruits of local winemakers' labors to purchasing locally made pottery, camel milk lotions, and hand-woven weareable art to taking a staycation at a sumptuous desert resort. 

HO, HO! HEAR OUR INTERVIEW WITH “SANTA” BILL SWANK, AUTHOR OF CHRISTMAS IN SAN DIEGO

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos:  Left, Bill Swank with Reina Menasche; lower right, Swank with Ed Barrena at our studio in El Cajon

Listen to the podcast of our interview, originally aired on KNSJ Radio 89.1 FM: http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/rqxbr1r051/BookshelfSanta-BillSwank.mp3

December 21, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – If you’re looking for a true treasure to share with someone on your holiday gift list, a copy of Bill Swank’s Christmas in San Diego is ideal.  His book is filled with local examples of the Christmas spirit, from Santee Santas giving back to the community to endearing and unique holiday traditions in towns across our region.

“The goodness that we have in us all  is Santa Claus,” says Swank, who has expertise in delivering holiday cheer. He’s played Santa for years, including serving as Santa Claus at the annual December Nights celebration in Balboa Park.

SHERIFF'S SENIOR VOLUNTEER PATROL SPREADS HOLIDAY CHEER

 

December 15, 2015 (San Diego) - During the holiday season, members of the Sheriff's Senior Volunteer Patrol work hard to make sure seniors who live alone feel extra special. Throughout the month of December, Senior Volunteer Patrol members will be delivering gift baskets or hot meals to seniors enrolled in the Sheriff's You Are Not Alone program.

 

FEASTING AND MERRYMAKING PARTY WITH EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE SUNDAY: YOU'RE INVITED!

December 17, 2015 (Mt. Helix) -- Our holiday parties are legendary! Come join the fun Sunday, December 20 from 2-6 p.m. at our editor's home on Mt. Helix.

  • Delicious feast! Glazed ham and yams, cinnamon baked apples, beet/strawberry and eggplant salads from Baba al Hara,  pasta and salad from Olive Graden, desserts from New York Bakery
  •  Wine tasting with Grant James Vineyard and Pearson Bros. Winery, plus holiday beverages (21 and up.)
  • Live music (folk, rock, and holiday songs) with Paul Nichols, Cindy Burnham, Tim and Marijo Luranc,
  • Holiday games, prizes and surprises! Prizes include a mountain vacation,  wine lover’s baskets, dance lessons, silver jewelry, hand-woven shawl from Weaving Works in Santa Ysabel, California Wolf Preserve tour in Julian,  Passes and big-cat feeding for 2 at Lions Tigers &  Bears, dinner at Descanso Junction, Glamour Girlz gift basket, personal trainer for a month at CHN Fitness in Santee, yoga lessons at CHN Yoga, and much more. 

LIGHTS FANTASTIC: HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOW IN SANTEE

By Miriam Raftery

December 8, 2015 (Santee) – Michael Balazs has created the ultimate Christmas light show at his Santee home “to bring smiles to the neighborhood children and adults alike.”  This year’s show at 9773 Roe Drive, Santee features 28,000 lights synced to eight musical songs ranging from Party Rock to Carol of the Bells. It's all synced to FM radio so people can get out of their cars and dance to show their holiday spirit.

This year, he switched to professional LED lighting – and slashed his electricity bill to a shockingly low $50 to $70 a month, he says.

SNOW IN LA MESA AT CHRISTMAS IN THE VILLAGE DEC. 11-12

 

East County News Service

December 10, 2015 (La Mesa) – This year’s Christmas in the Village will feature snow, Santa, carolers, holiday movies, kids’ face painting, fire pits, entertainment and more family fun. The event will be held rain or shine on Friday and Saturday, December 11 and 12 from 5 to 9 p.m. in the historic La Mesa Village.

VINE SPIRITS: HOLIDAY WINE TRAIL CONTINUES DEC. 12-13

 

 

East County News Service

December 9, 2015 (Ramona)--The Ramona Valley Vineyard invites you to take a break from the holiday hustle and give yourself and and your friends a unique holiday wine experience.  You can join  Join 15 RVVA member wineries on December 12th & 13th for the second weekend of wine, fun and holiday spirits along the Holiday Wine Trail.

Your “Get Your Merry On” Holiday Wine Trail Passport is your ticket to great deals and festive fun over all four days of the wine trail.  Each participating winery is offering different holiday wine trail specials including heavily discounted tastings and pairings, bottle and merchandise discounts, unique holiday gift items featuring local artisans.

ATTENDANCE TOPS 200 AT RANCHO SAN DIEGO LIBRARY’S FIRST ‘WINTERFEST’

 

Next up: Star Wars Day Dec. 12

Photo, left: “Snow Queen” from Parties Unique company greets a miniature, costumed Elsa from “Frozen” during Winterfest at the San Diego County Library Rancho San Diego Branch on Dec. 5, 2015

Story and photos by Megan Just

December 8, 2015 (Rancho San Diego) − Though it’s been two years since the release of Disney’s “Frozen,” Elsa and Anna still have the power to draw a crowd.  In this case, the princesses, played by performers from the Parties Unique company, were the headliners of Winterfest at the San Diego County Library, Rancho San Diego Branch, on Saturday afternoon.

The festival, which included cookie decorating, holiday crafts, an ugly sweater contest, an instant-print photo booth, and two princess-led sing-along performances, drew a crowd of more than 200 children and accompanying adults.

ALPINE BECOMES WINTER WONDERLAND FOR A NIGHT

By Miriam Raftery

December 7, 2015 (Alpine)—Santa and Mrs. Claus rode in on a fire truck as Alpine’s Parade of Lights rolled through town.  The procession included everything from donkeys to big rigs—all festooned in holiday lights.

A craftsman wielded a chainsaw, carving a work of art from a block of ice amid a Snow Festival at the parade route’s end in the Alpine Creek shopping center.  His handicrafts included a glistening reindeer, gingerbread man and more.

Kids skidded gleefully down a sledding hill created just for the occasion, while adults and kids alike frolicked in frothy snow bubbles spewed into the air by a snow-making machine.

LA MESA CHAMBER ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF CHILDREN'S HOLIDAY PROJECT

 

East County News Service

December 4, 2015 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce announces completion of the new “Children’s Holiday Project.” The following will be presented to Maxine Lynch for La Mesa boys and girls on Thursday, December 10: 35 pairs of shoes, 54 shirts, 200 pairs of underwear, 170 pairs of socks and 20 fleece jackets. In addition, over 46 stuffed animals have been donated for local children by the Town and Country Resort Hotel.

ALL ABOARD! NORTH POLE LIMITED

 

December 5, 2015 (Campo)--The famous North Pole Limited returns to celebrate the holiday season at the Pacific southwest Railway Museum in Campo. This special holiday production is offered with the help of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association’s volunteers in cooperation with Mountain Empire and Bonita Vista Valley High Schools.

ALPINE VILLAGE CHRISTMAS PARADE OF LIGHTS & SNOW FESTIVAL DEC. 4

East County News Service

November 30, 2015 (Alpine) – The community of Alpine welcomes visitors to the 20th annual Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights and Snow Festival on Friday, December 4th.

The free Snow Festival includes a real snow hill, lighting of the Alpine Community Christmas Tree, Santa Claus (bring your camera!), family activities, vendors, crafters and more.  The parade starts at 6:30  p.m. (with entrants lining up starting at 6 p.m. at Alpine Blvd. and West Victoria Drive,) and ends at the Alpine Creek Town Center (1347 Tavern Road) for the Snow Festival from 7 to 9 p.m.

BLAZING HOLIDAY BONFIRE: DEC. 4 IN LEMON GROVE

 

East County News Service

December 1, 2015 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove’s annual community bonfire will be ablaze at Civic Center Park (3200 Main Street) on Friday, December 4 from 5 to 9 p.m.  

Activities also include  hayrides, a rock climbing wall, game booths, photo booth, arts & crafts, face painting and a game truck.  Free hot chocolate, chili, cornbread, cookies, fruit and popcorn will be provided.

NILE SISTERS SEEKS HELP FOR GIFT BASKETS TO ASSIST REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS

 

December 1, 2015 (San Diego)--Each year, Nile Sisters’ Adopt-a-Basket program provides baskets filled with household goods to help newly arrived women refugees and immigrants and their children.  

The end of the year and holiday season is a difficult time for many families, so Nile Sisters seeks to relief some of the financial worries on these newcomers to our region. This year, Nile Sisters is building partnerships with local schools and organizations to organize a donation drive for household items at their respective locations, and all donations will go directly to the communities served by Nile Sisters.

TONIGHT: CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR ANIMALS

 

 

December 5, 2015 (La Mesa)-- You're invited to celebrate "Christmas for Animals" tonight ta 6 p.m. in La Mesa. Enjoy live jazz, blues, and rock n' roll plus delicious foods and drinks, silent auction prizes and Santa Claus!

The party is at 4518 Mayapan Drive in La Mesa at the home of a wonderful benefactor, hosted by the American Polish Cooperation Society. Proceeds will benefit local animal rescue organizations as well as helping East County Magazine start a new special Animals Action section. 

For details, scroll down and please RSVP at www.acps.com.pl or by calling 619-698-7617.  Bring a donation from the heart to help animals in need across our region.  We hope to see you there!

DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: TOP FESTIVALS AND EVENTS DEC. 4-13

 

Listen to Destination East County by clicking the audio link, originally aired on KNSJ radio.

December 1, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) --This week’s Destination East County includes an array of holiday happenings including major community festivals such as the Alpine Parade of Lights and Snow Festival, Lakeside’s Christmas on Maine, a tree-lighting and sleigh rides in Ramona’s Old Town, Santa at Santee Lakes, as well as holiday music performances and stage productions, plus a Chaldean Christmas Gala to help people in need.

Plus we’ll have previews of coming attractions including La Mesa Shimmers, La Mesa’s Christmas in the Village, a holiday home tour in Alpine, and a holiday open house at an alpaca farm in Descanso. Scroll down for all of these events and more.

Audio: 

HOLIDAY OPEN RANCH AT ALPACAS OF SAN DIEGO IN DESCANSO DEC. 13

 

November 30, 2015 (Descanso) – You’re invited to a Holiday Open House at Alpacas of San Diego, located at 10499 Highway 79 in Descanso, on December 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Admission is free.

Learn all about alpacas and alpaca ownership see why these animals are so loveable and eco friendly, and you can do some holiday shopping for gift items such as luxurious alpaca scarves, throws, socks, yarn skeins and plush toys.  There will also be a craft table and activities for the kids, as well as a raffle gift basket giveaway.

SAN DIEGO FESTIVAL "JOYOUS MUSIC OF THE SEASON" CONCERT DEC. 6

 

Choral members also needed

November 30, 2015 (Rancho San Diego) – The San Diego Festival Chorus performs "Joyous Music for the Season" on December 6 at 3 p.m. in the College Avenue Baptist Church.   The program features an 80-voice chorus and 48-piece symphony orchest in its 15th season, perfoming Mendelssohn's "Hymn of Praise" and a unique arrangement of  holiday music.

 

Cost: Adults $17, Seniors and students $15, Children under 12 yrs $5, Military free

600 JOIN WADDLE AND TROT TO HELP THOSE IN NEED

 

Story and photos by Leon Thompson

November 30, 2015 Thanksgiving Day (Santee) – The fourth annual Waddle and Trot 5K Fun Run (that’s the waddle part) and race (for the trotters) took off from the parking lot of the Pathways Community Church at  8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  Over 600 runners raced down Mast Boulevard and into Santee Lakes park.

 The course took competitors around three lovely lakes while Egrets and Great Blue Heron watched with cautious curiosity.   You cannot imagine a more eclectic group.  There were people of all ages from 90 years old to the unborn and every color you can imagine. 

But we all had one thing in common – to reach out and help someone in need, collectively do a good deed and in spread a little holiday cheer along the way.  All proceeds went to benefit the Santee Santas and the Santee Food Bank.

SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS ON MAINE: DEC. 5 IN LAKESIDE

East County News Service

November 26, 2015 (Lakeside) – Santa and his elves are hard at work getting ready for the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce’s 17th annual Spirit of Christmas on Maine Ave. in Lakeside.  The holiday tradition takes place on December 5th from 4 to 9 p.m. and is free to the public.

With an atmosphere of an old-fashioned, hometown Christmas, the event features the sights and sounds of Christmas including local school performances, Santa Claus and photos with Santa, food and drink, kids activities, rides and jumpy jumps, booths, crafters, and lighting of the community Christmas tree.

LA MESA SHIMMERS ON DEC. 9: CELEBRATING COMPLETION OF DOWNTOWN STREETSCAPE

 

East County News Service

November 25, 2015 (La Mesa)—You’re invited to join the City of La Mesa in celebrating completion of the $5 million downtown streetscape renovation project on La Mesa Boulevard in La Mesa’s quaint village. Experience the newly brightened Downtown Village on December 9th from 4:00-6:00 pm.

La Mesa Shimmer will feature a lighting ceremony at 4:30 pm at Palm Ave. and La Mesa Blvd.  Refreshments will be provided during the event at Palm Ave. and La Mesa Blvd.  and near Date Ave. and La Mesa Blvd.  Live bands and students from Peter Pan Junior Theatre will perform along the Boulevard from 4:00-6:00 pm.

DESTINATION EAST COUNTY: TOP FESTIVALS & EVENTS NOV. 27-DEC. 12

 

Listen to Destination East County, also aired on KNSJ radio, by clicking the audio link.

By Miriam Raftery

November 24, 2015 (San Diego's East County) --This week’s Destination East County includes a tree-lighting ceremony and ice skating in downtown El Cajon, Pomegranate Days at a camel dairy, and a holiday music festival.

Plus we’ll have previews of coming attractions including a Chaldean Christmas party to benefit local refugees in need,  the Jingle Paws Walk helping shelter pets, sleigh rides and a tree-lighting in Ramona’s Old Town, a holiday party with lions, tigers and bears, Santee at Santee Lakes, and several musical productions. So scroll down for all of these events and more.

Audio: 

TREE-LIGHTING, SLEIGHT RIDES AND MORE IN RAMONA'S OLD TOWN DEC. 5

East County News Service

Photo, left: historic buildings at the Guy B. Woodward Museum in Ramona's Old Town

November 23, 2015 (Ramona)--The Ramona Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Christmas tree lighting event on December 5th from 5-8 p.m. in Old Town Ramona. The event features sleigh rides, carolers, Santa’s Village, performers and Santa Claus.

The tree-lighting will be at the Guy B. Woodward Museum (645 Main St..),  which includes a collection of historical buildings form Ramona's western past. The Holiday Craft Village with Santa will be in Ramona’s Town Hall.  Around town, watch for other activities and shops competing for the best-dressed window contest.

In addition, Old Town Ramona shops invite you to join in a “Find the Elf” contest from 3 -8 p.m. on the same day.

PRODUCE PICKS: THANKSGIVING FEAST AND HOLIDAY RECIPES

By Greg Dunne

                                          

November 21, 2015 (East County).  It is coming up on Thanksgiving and time to eat! It is also a time for gathering with family and friends. I am a healthily-conscience eater most of the time, but on Thanksgiving the rulebook goes out the window. I am already thinking of all the yummy food that’s going to be on the dining table and without a doubt will probably eat way too much of everything. Half of what most of us eat on Thanksgiving is healthy food. Turkey, yams, green beans, and cranberries for a few - but don’t count calories, let’s just eat. There are some awesome recipes at the bottom of the article by my wife, Dianne.

“SHOP EAST COUNTY” LAUNCHES TO BOOST LOCAL ECONOMY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 20, 2015 (El Cajon ) – Santa Claus joined with East County Chamber of Commerce leaders, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and Parkway Plaza officials at the mall for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch the “Shop East County” program.

“We’re excited today to celebrate the idea of Shop East County,” said Eric Lund, Chamber president.  The average person spends $805 each sopping season on gifts, decorations and food, according to the National Retail Association – money that when spent locally creates sales tax revenues that can be used to fund police, firefighting and other things that benefit the people of East County.

HOLIDAY LIGHTS ON MAIN NOV. 28 INCLUDES TREE LIGHTING, ICE RINK AND SANTA’S VILLAGE IN EL CAJON

By Robert Gehr © 2015

November 21, 2015 (El Cajon )—El Cajon’s first-ever Holiday Lights on Main celebration will be held November 28th from 12 noon to 7 p.m.  Festivities take place at Prescott Promenade Park and in downtown El Cajon.

This special event features a Santa’s village complete with Santa Claus and an elf making an appearance just in time for Christmas! There will also be an ice skating rink, craft and food vendors, a train ride, community acts, plus live music featuring Danielle Tucker from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.

A special Christmas tree lighting at 6:00 p.m. in front of Starbucks and Urbn St. Brewing Co. at Main St. and Magnolia Ave. will coincide with all the lights throughout downtown and Prescott Promenade Park being turned on to brighten the holidays for everyone.

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