REGION — San Diego County’s smallest cities kicked off the holiday season Dec. 7 with a variety of free activities, tree-lighting ceremonies and photo opportunities with Santa Claus.
In past years the Del Mar Village Association teamed with the city to host a downtown-wide “winter wonderland” that included a play area with real snow, strolling carolers, restaurant tastes and horse-drawn carriage rides.
This year DMVA chose to limit activities to the amphitheater area on the southwest corner of Camino del Mar and 15th Street in an effort to provide a more intimate experience for families.
No one seemed to notice the difference, especially the younger attendees. Two-year-old Philip Lasensky watched as he watched the Tinseltone Carolers perform holiday classics throughout the three-hour event.
“It’s the first time he’s ever seen real singers performing,” his dad, Peter, said.
“We love it,” Lisa Raphael said. “It’s a really nice time.”
This year’s holiday happenings featured a passport program for children, who could select from a prize bin once they received validation from 10 participating retailers. Completed passports were entered into a drawing in which parents could win a gift certificate to a Del Mar restaurant.
The event, held from 2 to 5 p.m., also included face painting, a craft station and complimentary hot chocolate and cookies provided by Pacifica Del Mar, Café Secret, Prep Kitchen, Americana Restaurant and L’Auberge Del Mar.
Youngsters also had an opportunity to climb aboard a lifeguard rescue boat parked on 15th Street.
Activities in adjacent Solana Beach began at 5 p.m. with performances from “The Nutcracker” by students from All Star Dance.
Mayor Tom Campbell, with help from the hundreds of people in attendance at Fletcher Cove Park, then did a five-second countdown to light the tree.
Santa arrived shortly after that in a sleigh driven by a pickup truck. The Santa Fe Christian High School band also performed holiday favorites. Free hot beverages and cookies were available at the annual event, hosted by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.