Last November, the cherished tradition of having Santa Claus make a one-night stop to visit children in Pacific Palisades was suddenly abandoned by the Chamber of Commerce, which had organized the festivities for nearly 70 years. The reason given to halt the free event was “it didn’t have anything to do with business.”
In the past, Swarthmore Avenue (and on several occasions Antioch Street) was closed off for the early-evening gathering. The event was widely attended by the community, and even after their children were long grown, residents would still come out to enjoy the camaraderie with friends and neighbors.
In response to the Chamber’s action, a band of Palisades residents led by Lisa Glantz decided not to let this December tradition disappear. They worked furiously to organize a highly successful replacement Ho!Ho!Ho! at the Palisades Recreation Center in less than two weeks.
When Glantz stepped up this fall to organize a second Holiday Ho!Ho!Ho!, the Pacific Palisades Community Council awards committee knew she deserved to receive one of this year’s Golden Sparkplug awards.
“We didn’t have to let it [Ho!Ho!Ho!] fade away,” Glantz told Circling the News, recalling how she posted a notice on Nextdoor Palisades for people who wanted to help keep the tradition alive. “Eight people showed up at Starbucks,” she said. “As we organized and asked people for help, everybody said ‘yes.’
“It was remarkable” how the event came together,” Glantz said. “It had nothing to do with me. It was about being a cheerleader and not giving up.”
Then she smiled and thanked “all the naysayers” who said it shouldn’t be done and couldn’t be done with so little prep time.
How did Glantz happen to organize such a cheerful, determined and yet diverse group of volunteers?
One of her friends, who knows Glantz’s business, encouraged her to take the lead. You’re a natural “pack” leader, the friend pointed out.
Her business? Let’s call it a doggie daycare on steroids. Glantz picks up 20 dogs three times a week and takes them in a van to a nine-acre ranch. A large area is fenced in to allow dogs to play and run off-leash, under Glantz’s supervision.
“We’re a happy pack on a joy mission,” said Glantz, “and then I put them back in the van and bring them home.”
Glantz grew up in Atlantic Beach, on south Long Island, New York; her mother was a schoolteacher and her father was a businessman. For her last year of high school, Glantz moved to Los Angeles to attend an honor’s program at USC. A few years later she lived for a time in Europe before moving back to New York to attend NYU.
However, the lure of Los Angeles was too great and Glantz returned here in 1988. She lived all over the town, eventually settling in Santa Monica. She started waitressing, with even a short stint at Mayberry’s on Swarthmore. But lost dogs started showing up at her doorstep. It was then “I decided to recreate myself,” she said. “I started this dog business.
“I rescued them for so long, and now they rescued me,” said Glantz, who moved to the Palisades in 2013 and began her business by putting up a sign on the Palisades High School fence along Temescal. “I started with four dogs, and now I have a waiting list. I have great clients.”
Her current clientele consists of larger dogs, but in January she hopes to form a small-dog group for those under 30 pounds (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org).
About her job, Glantz said, “It’s very Zen. Having rescued so many dogs, I know how to keep peace. My entourage is with me.”
She loves the Palisades, noting that “I really feel this a small town in a big city near the water – it’s like where I grew up. I love that feeling.”
Preparations are well underway for the second community-led Ho!Ho!Ho! on December 15. Glantz thanked the Rec Center staff for allowing her group to use the park last year, and she thanks Palisades-Malibu YMCA Executive Director Jim Kirtley for offering Simon Meadow in Temescal Canyon this year (Visit: Palitown.com for more details about this year’s Ho!Ho!Ho!).