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Seasonal festivals set for this fall and winter in Laguna Beach

Miranda Cox, right, greets a young cookie decorator.
Miranda Cox, right, greets a young cookie decorator at Hospitality Night in 2019. The event is traditionally held by Laguna Beach on every first Friday of December.
(Spencer Grant)

As with most events this year that have shifted gears in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, city-sponsored events in Laguna Beach for the rest of the year will look a little different.

So will the Promenade on Forest.

Instead of its typical holiday celebrations with Hospitality Night or the annual trick-or-treat at the Community and Susi Q Senior Center, the city will hold two seasonal festivals on lower Forest Avenue, dubbed the “Fall Festival at the Promenade” and “Holidays at the Promenade.” The festivals will run from Oct. 5 to Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 to Jan. 3, respectively.

Plans for the festivals were unanimously approved by the City Council on Sept. 22. The city had to cancel its annual fireworks show earlier this year because of COVID-19.

As part of the fall festival, the Promenade on Forest will be decorated with hay bales, flowers and pumpkins. Other fixtures will include a “Thanksgiving Thankful Wall,” where people will be able to write what they’re thankful for this year, and an area to drop off letters to be sent to active service members.

Laguna Beach initially expected to lose $12 million in revenue early in April. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the stay-at-home orders earlier in March.

The festival will start with a pumpkin-carving contest.

Participants will carve their pumpkins at home before bringing them to the Susi Q, where they will be judged. Chosen pumpkins will be displayed at the promenade throughout the festival.

Adam Gufarotti, a senior public works analyst, said the city would partner with the city’s chamber of commerce to encourage businesses to develop special fall merchandise and menu specials.

The winter festival will include a virtual Santa Claus, where children will be able to talk directly to the jolly gift-giver. The dates of his online appearance will be announced later. The festival will offer a place for children to drop off letters to Santa, and the mayor will assist in answering them on his behalf. There will also be a Christmas tree that residents will be able to decorate and a tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

“Santa will be coming to town,” Gufarotti joked, adding that Mr. Claus would be traveling around the city in a marine safety Jeep and that there would also be a menorah at the promenade to mark Hanukkah.

The festival will also include the city’s first window-decorating contest, which will be open to all businesses.

City staff said event organizers for the Laguna Beach Rotary Club’s annual Classic Car Show canceled the event this year, and plans for the city’s Patriot’s Day parade in March will be revisited in December, pending state guidance.

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