CARLSBAD — Holiday at the Rancho — an annual Carlsbad tradition — attracted many North County families for a celebration of the winter season with craft activities, a movie showing and visits with Santa on Dec. 4.
Leo Carrillo Ranch, 6200 Flying LC Lane, was transformed into a winter wonderland with Christmas lights and garland for the occasion. Although there was no real snow to be found, attendees bundled up to fend off the cold that settled in that evening.
“There’s activities that keep the kids entertained, there’s live entertainment, Santa’s here,” Encinitas resident Zoe Rhine said. She brought her daughter Sydney, 5, to the event. “What’s not to love?”
The family-friendly event delighted children with various activity booths, including an opportunity to decorate tree ornaments and sugar cookies. Many also jumped at the chance to get their face painted with whatever their heart desired.
The San Diego Harmony Ringers attracted a crowd with their handbell renditions of classic holiday tunes and a performance by Dance Unlimited received a round of applause from those gathered on the lawn.
Upon his arrival from the North Pole, Santa Claus lit the 14-foot Christmas tree and settled down for pictures with event attendees.
Per tradition, Holiday at the Rancho also featured an outdoor screening of a holiday movie with this year’s presentation of Polar Express. Throughout the evening, guests were able to take a ride on a mini version of the famous train for a fee.
“We come here every year,” Leslie Gaines of Carlsbad said. She visited the holiday event with husband Mark and daughter Madison, 7. “It’s our favorite thing to do every Christmas.”
Several handmade craft booths offered an opportunity to snatch up unique holiday gifts for the family, including popular marshmallow blasters.
The ranch’s main Hacienda was turned into a cozy storytelling spot, with mats scattered around a Christmas tree where kids could listen to holiday tales.
Thirty-minute walking tours of the historic Leo Carrillo Ranch were also provided for those interested in learning more about the facility.
Members of Carlsbad’s Leadership in Training and Education after-school program volunteered at the event, serving popcorn and warm drinks to be enjoyed during the movie. Cassie’s Crepes and La Costa Coffee Roasting Co. sold dessert and coffee.
“It’s the best holiday event of the year,” Rhine said. “We’ve been coming here since Sydney was born; I’ve even come in the rain — I just love it.”