Santa Monica Lookout
Santa Monica's Winterlit Set to Spread Holiday Cheer
By Melanie Magruder
October 15, 2012 -- Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) is poised to wow residents and visitors again this holiday season with another event-packed Winterlit Festival launching in early November.
City residents and their holiday visitors can expect the return of DTSM’s celebrated holiday offerings, as well as some welcome new surprises.
Ice skating five blocks from the beach? A festive community grand opening? Colorful holiday tree and menorah lighting festivities? Tempting merchant discounts? Surprise Santas? All will be on hand and on the streets.
The hugely popular ICE at Santa Monica outdoor skating rink will have a grand opening again on Thursday, November 8 at the corner of 5th Street and Arizona Avenue. Back for the sixth year, ICE has proven to be one of the city’s more popular family entertainments, drawing some 65,000 skaters and 250,000 visitors last year.
The grand opening event, hosted by Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia, promises skating performances and the chance for skaters of all ages to enjoy healthy winter exercise and fun in Santa Monica’s balmy seaside weather. In addition, there will be a live music performance by the band Venice as well as kids games and crafts. And all of it is free.
The ceremony -- attended by civic leaders and local dignitaries -- sets the tone for the holiday season, kicking off festive events as merchants roll out their holiday offerings.
The celebration of Chanukah commences December 8, with the traditional lighting of the Menorah on the Promenade each evening through December 16.
One of the more intriguing programs sponsored by DTSM will add a little gold to what is traditionally known as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when throngs of shoppers push businesses into the “black.” Santa’s Little Savers will see DTSM ambassadors trolling Downtown merchants with a surprise for early shoppers and a big thanks for shopping local.
“This should be an early holiday present for local shoppers getting a jump on holiday buying,” said DTSM Vice President Debbie Lee. “We’ll go into a shop where there is a lot of activity and surprise the customer at the head of the line by paying for their purchase up to $100."
The National Retail Federation reported a whopping $52.4 billion in sales nationally on Black Friday last year, with an estimated 226 million shoppers out for the best deals on what is traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Santa Monica contributed mightily to that total.
Of course, the Holiday season wouldn’t carry the same spirit without Santa Monican’s traditional generosity. This year’s PAL’s Best Gift Ever Toy Drive kicks off November 8 at the ICE grand opening. Last year, Santa Monica residents and businesses donated enough presents during the holidays to make sure every child in the city was touched by the spirit of the season.
For seven years now, the Police Activities League (PAL) has been sponsoring the gift-giving event in association with DTSM and Santa Monica Place. It provides gifts for children who might not otherwise expect a visit from Santa due to family hardships and a tough economy.
Last year, PAL Director Eula Fritz said the recent recession had been tough on local youth. “We have kids come to the PAL center to write letters to Santa,” Fritz said. “Sometimes they just write, ‘All I want is a gift for my mom.’”
During the month of December, local schools, businesses and residents drop off gift cards, toys, and books at locations around the city. On December 18, volunteers assemble and wrap some 500 gifts for children of all ages. Then on December 20, a party is held to hand out the presents, giving the volunteers as much holiday cheer as the gift recipients.
More events and festivities will unroll throughout the holiday season.
For updates, check the website http://www.winterlit.com.
Drop off locations for PAL gifts are:
• Santa Monica PAL
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