You can tell it's the holiday season in Newport Beach when Fashion Island hosts its annual tree-lighting ceremony.
And so it was Friday night as thousands of people turned out to the shopping center to see actor and TV personality Mario Lopez and KOST/103.5 FM's Ellen K emcee the 30-minute event.
Like South Coast Plaza's lighting ceremony Thursday in Costa Mesa, Fashion Island's was packed with visitors sitting on blankets and chairs while others stood to see the giant tree have its big moment.
Since Nov. 1, when Fashion Island’s 90-foot, 12,000-pound white fir was hoisted into place at the Bloomingdale’s-Neiman Marcus Courtyard, crews had been readying it for Friday’s ceremony. It is adorned with about 20,000 lights and ornaments, many of them red and white bulbs.
The festivities also featured a Broadway-style revue by the Young Americans, a show choir. About 70 members of the cast sang and danced to tunes such as "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." The latter featured men dressed in Santa outfits complete with pot bellies.
The songs were part of the group's full production, "The Magic of Christmas," which runs Dec. 7 to 17 at La Mirada's Theatre for the Performing Arts.
After the Young Americans, it was time for the real Santa to entertain the crowd. He strolled onstage to meet Lopez and Ellen K and picked two young boys from the audience.
Santa guided the boys to a white-and-red-striped lever that they pulled to light the tree and release snow onto the stage.
Fashion Island will repeat the tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Saturday. The center is at 401 Newport Center Drive.
Bella Terra mall in Huntington Beach will have its own tree lighting from 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday at 7777 Edinger Ave.