Community Holiday Hullabaloo Is a Hit
More than 1,000 residents of all ages gathered at the Palisades Recreation Center on Saturday afternoon to keep an annual town tradition alive.
When residents discovered in November that the Palisades Chamber of Commerce was discontinuing its 60-year Holiday Ho!Ho!Ho! tradition–featuring a visit by Santa and local groups performing–they jumped into action.
Led by Lisa Glantz, Sarah Kamdararah and Lou Kamer, residents came together and organized a major event in about two weeks.
On Saturday, just past 2 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived with their reindeer in Pacific Palisades.
Since permit parking is now in place on portions of the Alphabet streets, the Clauses parked atop Fire Station 69 and climbed aboard the hook-and-ladder truck, joined by numerous elves and co-Honorary Mayors Janice and Billy Crystal.
The Clauses had never seen Pacific Palisades in the afternoon, having always arrived after dark for Ho!Ho!Ho!, so the firefighters took them on a leisurely drive down Swarthmore to the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Elf Janice turned to Santa and asked if he could bring her any one of the many homes that had such a gorgeous view. Santa asked if she had been good this year, and then he said he’d see what he could do, obviously concerned about the rising deficit at his North Pole headquarters.
The firetruck traveled back up Swarthmore through Caruso’s Palisades Village, and then down Monument, turning back on Sunset and then Carey Street before arriving at the Recreation Center, where singing was already underway, featuring the Bluecat Voice Studio. Other entertainers included the Dana Greene singers and the Flow Key POP Dancing group.
Children participated in cookie decorating, sponsored by Patricia Dunn and the Dunn family. A balloon man (sponsored by Diane Bleak) twisted some wonderfully-shaped️ animals for the kids. A face painter, sponsored by Pamela Finck, turned ordinary kids into unicorns, bears and Ninja Mutant Turtles.
A bake sale, organized by Ivy Greene, raised $500, with the proceeds going to kids in Malibu whose families had been left homeless by the fires.
Palisades High School students sold poinsettias, in conjunction with the town’s new nursery Acme 5 Life Style, to benefit Woolsey Fire victims. Numerous toys were donated to the Toy Drive for foster children (a special event held annually at Vittorio’s restaurant on Marquez Avenue). There was free hot chocolate, thanks to the Palisades Garden Café, and apple cider, thanks to Reca Gerchik.
And no community event in Pacific Palisades is complete without demonstrations by Gerry Blanck’s Marital Arts students: the kids even impressed Santa with their skills.
More than 125 parents signed their kids up to sit with Santa, but waiting was kept to a minimum by having a numbering system (much like a deli). While waiting for their number to be called, kids and parents could participate in activities. There was no charge to take photos.
Just before 5 p.m., David and Orly Israel performed the menorah lighting and told the story of Hanukkah.
Santa and the Mrs. returned to Station 69, jumped in their sleigh and flew back to the North Pole to make sure their minimum-wage elves were working on all the toys that kids had requested, including a LOL Big, American Girl dolls, Legos and drones. One child asked for world peace and another asked that her family be together. Some kids who were in awe of the big man couldn’t articulate what they wanted, but Santa assured them that if they wrote it down and sent it, he would get the letter.
Before the event, organizer Lisa Glantz had written on Nextdoor, “All are welcome to bring anything they care to, of course, and there will be tables, sharing always fun—this is a neighborhood coming together in a community park.
“Eight people agreed to meet at Starbucks two and a half weeks ago, so please excuse that we only will have hot chocolate, apple cider and our marvelous decorated cookies and our yummy bake sale and both Christmas and Chanukah candy,” Glantz said. “But goodness gracious… Santa will be arriving by fire truck and there will be constant lifting of voices. A unique simple community happening inspired by a conversation on Next Door (shout out to Vicki Warren).
“The chit-chat back and forth on Nextdoor led to a clear community conclusion: ‘Holidays are all about inclusion.’ Eight people made a choice to not let go of tradition. We chose happy and grateful at holiday time,” Glantz wrote.
In addition to Glantz and Kamer, special thanks were given to , Barbara Edelman, Ivy Greene, Heather Lyle, Brian Pado and Chase Holiday.
Organizers also thanked Station 69 firefighters, Rec Center Director Erich Haas, the Crystals, the Woman’s Club (Reca Gerchik and Robin Weitz), Trevor Shickman (photo booth), carnival games (Kat Van Vlack), Brian Pado and YMCA Executive Director Jim Kirtley (for trees/display), Buddy Chancellor (PA system) and Chase Holiday (graphics for flyer).
“There were 35 Ambassadors from Palisades High School who were working before, during and after the event,” Kamer said. “Please thank all the other residents who let decorations, lights or a helping hand.” To view more photos or post your own, visit: bit.ly/palisades2018.