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Holiday at Rancho a seasonal tradition

CARLSBAD — More than 2,000 people gathered to celebrate the holiday season at the fifth annual Holiday at the Rancho on Dec. 6 at historic Leo Carrillo Park.
Families and friends enjoyed the food, crafts and festivities, which included a tree lighting ceremony, an outdoor showing of “The Grinch,” a performance by the Carlsbad High School choir, and a visit from the Grinch himself.
“The weather was gorgeous,” said Rachael Shay, recreation supervisor for the city of Carlsbad, adding that the attendance more than doubled from last year.
Although it was an unseasonably warm evening, candles and heat lamps warmed those who gathered on the patio of the large sprawling adobe ranch, which was once home to famous actor Leo Carrillo.
Carrillo, best known for his role as Pancho in the television series, “The Cisco Kid,” bought the ranch in 1937 as a retreat. It later became a city park.
For some it was a chance to catch up with friends in the community, for others it was a chance to support the ongoing restoration of the historic National Landmark, which opened to the public in 2003.
The restoration project is only partially completed, said Alan Kindle, president of Friends of Carrillo Ranch, the fundraising organization for the property.
For year’s, Kindle’s wife, Joan, a volunteer curator at the ranch, had been donating her time and talents to the Holiday at the Rancho event, by selling her handmade crafts to raise money for the ranch.
Friends of Carrillo Ranch has now grown to more than 300 members.
“Holiday at the Rancho was once closed to the public, but several years ago, the event opened to the public,” Shay said.
The event has now become a tradition for many families, she said.
“Our goal was to bring families together and create holiday memories.”