HO!HO!HO! Features Santa, Reingoats and a Tortoise?

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One of three “reingoats” at the HO!HO!HO! at Simon Meadow on Saturday.                                     Photo: Chaz Plager

By CHAZ PLAGER

As the days end earlier, the air gets colder, and the same five holiday songs seem to play over and over on the radio, only one conclusion can be reached: it’s time for Santa Claus to come to Pacific Palisades for HO!HO!HO!

Held this past Saturday at Simon Meadow at the YMCA Christmas tree lot, organizers estimated more than 600 people attended the two-hour afternoon event.

Palisades residents celebrate the most wonderful time of the year – and take photos with Santa – in tradition that began in 1949.

This family poses with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, while Sheldon Gibson from the YMCA takes the photo. Photo: Rosalie Huntington

Several stands set up around the edge of the park offered free refreshments, such as Blin Blin’s pancakes, Palisades Garden Cafe’s hot chocolate, and HANX’s coffee, a non-profit coffee blend where 100% of profit made goes to supporting those who serve (I had some. It was great).

The festival Fancy Feet students dancing to Christmas music in the center of the meadow.

Other performers included New Vibe Gymastics, Palisades Studio of Performing Arts and Fitness, Bluecat Music Singers, PaliHi Singers and an ukelele group.

Facepainting was sponsored by Hastens. Photo: Rosalie Huntington

 

PaliHi students from the YMCA’s Youth & Government program as well as the Ambassador Team volunteered, manning refreshment stands and helping visitors.

“I’m happy to be giving back to my community as a member of it and Pali Ambassador,” said Pali junior Pierce Bergstein. “‘Tis the season of giving, after all!”

Next to the refreshments were face painting and ornament creation with recycled materials.

At 2:45, 45 minutes after the event started, the main attraction arrived– Santa and Mrs. Claus, driven by Fire Station 69 to the meadow. The duo arrived with a trio of “reingoats,” one of which named Asterid tried to eat my pants.

The “rein” tortoise welcomed people to Ho!Ho!Ho!                                                                                     Photo: Rosalie Huntington

Unfortunately for them, the show was stolen by an unlikely guest; a 175-pound tortoise named Tiptoe. Tiptoe is the pet of Caitlyn Doran, who found great delight in making a turtle wear a Santa hat. “Tiptoe’s definitely a member of our community,” Doran said. “We love the YMCA for hosting and letting Tiptoe be here.”

Gerry Blanck and his karate students put on demonstrations to an appreciative audience. For the first time, a ukulele “orchestra” the Motley Ukes, also entertained.

Additionally, PaliHi Ambassadors sold more than $700 of Fire Station 69 shirts and hats for the LAFD Foundation, which supports firefighters and their families.

LAFD Captain Eric Nakamaru (left) and firefighter Roman Vega (right), helped escort Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus from Station 69 to Simon Meadow. Several youngsters won a chance to ride  on the truck.               
 Photo: Chaz Plager

This year for the first time anyone buying a raffle ticket prior to the event had a chance of riding on the fire truck with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Several kids (and their parents) were thrilled to be atop the hook and ladder as it took a leisurely spin though town. The money raised will be used to feed 100 people, who couldn’t afford food this season.

Resident and YMCA Board member Lou Kamer, affectionately known as the Alpha Elf said, “Many people gave (in time or donations or raffle tickets and prizes) and although we targeted for 100, we actually raised enough to feed 500.  That is what makes our town so special.”

Alpha Elf, aka Kamer, added, “all the local volunteer elves are looking forward to next year when we get another chance to bring everyone together again. Please give our thanks to all the organizers, the businesses (Blin Blin, HANX, Palisades Garden Café and Hastens Beds) and the neighbors who make HO!HO!HO! possible.”

PaliHi Ambassadors helped with manning stations during the HO!HO!HO!                                      Photo: Rosalie Huntington

 

Ukulele players performed at the HO!HO!HO!                                                                                              Photo: Rosalie Huntington

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2 Responses to HO!HO!HO! Features Santa, Reingoats and a Tortoise?

  1. 'joy' says:

    I LOVED THIS ISSUE! Thank you for sharing all the events and news with those of us who may have missed the charm and excitement. I sure LOVE Circling the News. Thank you, Sue, for squeezing out the time to keep the neighborhood informed and cohesive through your busy season. You’re a high spot of the neighborhood and a year-round Christmas gift to us all.

  2. Leslie campbell (reingoat wrangler) says:

    Thank you for covering this legendary Palisades event! There are a few things I’d like to add, however. The featured reingoat is ASTRID not ASTERIX! The other 2 attending reingoats were SIR SVEN and ELSA. They have been at Santa & Mrs. Claus’s side for two years in a row. Unlike new comer, Tip Toe the Turtle (not to take anything away from him), the reingoats images are often shared, by the press, but they receive very little actual “ink!” So…HO HO HO…just thought you should know: they were born, rescued and raised, in the Palisades, by Jeaneen and Mika Fabbro and they all deserve credit where it’s due. Thank you!

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