The anticipation was high on Saturday as Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrived at Fire Station 69 and were transported to Simon Meadow atop the hook-and-ladder truck.
Hearing sirens and seeing lights flashing, drivers pulled over, but once they saw Santa atop the firetruck, drivers and passengers pulled out their phones to take photos. Horns were honked and pedestrians shouted and waved, and “Merry Christmas” was shouted from the streets of Pacific Palisades.
Once the Claus family embarked from the truck at the Palisades-Malibu YMCA Christmas tree lot at Simon Meadow, they joined “goat-reindeer.” Children petted and fed the tiny creatures.
The entertainment was outstanding this year and included students from Gerry Blanck’s Dojo, who smashed rocks and broke boards by kicking them with their feet.
Fancy Feet dancers took the stage and the various groups were exceptional. Owner Emily Kay Tillman introduced her older dancers and said, “They haven’t been able to perform for the community for two years.”
Longtime resident Cindy Simon brought Christmas ornaments and children were allowed to select one and take it home. “Recycled” ornaments, which included some from Germany, were such a big hit, most likely the tradition will continue next year.
Cinque Terre gave away delicious croissants and Palisades Garden Cafe supplied hot chocolate.
The meadow was packed with families, and youth volunteers from the Y and the Palisades High Ambassadors were on hand to help.
Ho!Ho!Ho! is run by volunteers and headed by chief elf Lou Kamer, who selects a local charity to receive donations. This year’s designated charity was the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness.
In Dr. Seuss’ book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Grinch has taken all the Whos presents, all their food, and is waiting on top of a mountain because “They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming . . . .and the Whos will all cry BOO-HOO.”
The Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce announced in November 2018 that it would no longer sponsor Santa Claus and the Holiday Ho!Ho!Ho!, an event it had held since 1949.
Why? According to Dr. Seuss, “Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot . . .The Grinch hated Christmas. . .” Seuss speculates that perhaps the Grinch’s shoes were too tight or perhaps his heart was too small . . .or perhaps Caruso’s Palisades Village didn’t want competition from a free event, but whatever the reason, the Grinch said, “I MUST find some way to stop Christmas from coming.”
The Grinch/Chamber of Commerce didn’t count on the Whos of Pacific Palisades.
In just a few weeks, community volunteers were able to line up performers who had been shunned at the Caruso Palisades Village tree-lighting ceremony, including Gerry Blanck’s Martial Arts, Fancy Feet dancers, various schools choirs and the local Oom PaPa Band.
A year later in 2019, the celebration moved to Simon Meadow in Temescal Canyon and volunteers continued to host Ho!Ho!Ho! Alas, Covid took over the Grinch role last Christmas. Although Santa and Mrs. Claus were seated in Temescal, people were only able to drive by in cars and wave.
But this year was glorious as the community once again realized not the Chamber, not Covid, “HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME. Somehow or other, it came just the same!”
It’s not too late for kids to write a letter to Santa and drop it in his special mailbox at the Christmas tree lot or at restaurants and businesses around town (no need to put your letter in an envelope). Leave Santa a message at (424) 523-1999.
Even though Santa has returned to the North Pole to oversee his toy factory, there’s still time to enter your pet in the Ho!Ho!Ho! Pet Photo Contest. Enter by December 23 to win prizes from local businesses. (Visit: palitown.com)
“Maybe Christmas,” the Grinch thought, “doesn’t come from a store/Maybe Christmas . . .perhaps . . .means a little bit more.”
Congratulations to the community and Ho!Ho!Ho! organizers who made this event more than a little bit more: they made it an exceptional success.