The Rotary Club of Carlsbad’s 32nd annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony brought what organizers say was a record crowd to the south parking lot of the Carlsbad Village Faire shopping center on Sunday, Dec. 4.
The afternoon kicked off at 2:15 p.m. with the arrival of Santa, aboard an antique fire engine provided by the Carlsbad Fire Department. The procession was led by a police car playing Christmas music from a loudspeaker, and also included Mayor Matt Hall.
Santa spent the next two hours visiting, and posing for photos, with a steady lineup of children, while Mrs. Claus and an elf handed out candy canes.
Adults enjoyed performances by the Renaissance Institute of Music, which provided two orchestras of child musicians; carolers from Carlsbad High School; and Carlsbad High’s XCalibur dance team and Lancer Dancers.
The tree was lit promptly at 4:30 p.m. by Mayor Matt Hall.
Free cookies, coffee, and cider were served, and kids enjoyed story-telling and free books, courtesy of the Carlsbad Library’s Learning Center.
Event organizer Thomas K. Arnold, a former planning commissioner (and Seaside Courier columnist), said the event was created to give all children in Carlsbad and their families the chance to enjoy an old-fashioned holiday festival “where everything is free.”
“Not everyone can afford to take the kids to the mall for a $15 photo,” Arnold said. “That’s why, from the very start, the Rotary Club of Carlsbad has produced this event, in recent years with our wonderful partners here at the Village Faire, with the mandate that everything is free.”
Arnold said in prior years, Santa’s “elves” took Polaroid shots, and, most recently, digital photos that were printed out onsite.
“But now just about everyone has a cell phone so we are letting people take their own photos,” Arnold said. “We started this last year and people seem to like it a lot better – this way, they get a digital copy to post on Facebook or email to the relatives.
Lisa Snyder, general property manager for Village Faire, said the center has hosted the tree-lighting ceremony since 2006.