Our Laguna: Holiday festivities abound in Laguna

It doesn't take a calendar to know the holidays are here.

Laguna's holiday palettes are hanging from city lampposts; the Sawdust Festival's Winter Fantasy adds sparkle to the town; we are all eating turkey sandwiches; and Santa Claus is coming to town.

Hospitality Night on Dec. 2 is the biggest party of the year, and Santa is the guest of honor. He and Mayor Toni Iseman will tour the town in one of the city's fire engines before arriving with a police escort at 6 p.m. in front of City Hall, where they will light the pepper tree.

Their arrival will be preceded by a performance of the bell choir and a community sing-along at 5 p.m. outside Laguna Presbyterian Church. There will also be a craft bazaar. The church will be open to the public.

La Playa Preschool's tamale booth will be nearby in Tankersley Hall. Those tamales sell like hot cakes, and it's a good idea to order them early for pick up later in the evening.

The Laguna Concert Band will perform an hourlong show at 5 p.m. in the Peppertree Parking Lot between Forest and Ocean avenues. Thurston Middle School's band will play at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Following the tree lighting at 6 p.m., Santa will parade down Forest Avenue to meet Mrs. Claus at their holiday home on the corner of Glenneyre Street and Forest Avenue.

Miss Linda will be there to greet them, along with children who want to get up close and personal to give their wish list to Santa.

LagunaTunes will start caroling at 6:09 p.m. outside of Santa's House. Other entertainment will be provided by H Charton and the Holiday Steel Drums.

Shops on Forest Avenue will be open until 9 p.m., offering Christmas cheer and showing off wares. Restaurants are usually packed after the festivities, so making reservations is advised.

South Coast Cinema will show "It's a Wonderful Life" at 9:15 p.m. Admission is free.

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce organizes Hospitality Night and is responsible for the lighted trees along downtown streets.

Portions of Forest Avenue, Beach Street, Third Street, and the Peppertree Parking Lot will be closed to vehicular traffic on Hospitality Night.


A Winter Fantasy

Sawdust artists are hoping for better weather for the upcoming weekends of the Winter Fantasy. It poured last Sunday, but the rain held off on opening day.

"I lighted the main tree with the help of about 10 kids who did the countdown," Iseman said.

Glass blower John Barber won the Best Decorated Booth contest. Mary Ann Guerra, a mixed-media artist, and Mary Burgess, who creates JuJu dolls, won second place for their shared booth. Jeweler Sheryl Eberhardt came in third.

The Swing Set of the concert band entertained.

Kids' groups took all of the prizes for decorated trees. Girl Scout Troops 834, 135 and 1783 came in first, followed by Troops 308 and 1440 in second place and the Boys & Girls Club in third.

Why shop at a mall when the Sawdust Festival can "Put a Little Sparkle in Your Holiday," the theme of this year's show. Or shop local stores for gifts you won't find at Macy's.


Also on the holiday calendar

•A one-man adaptation of "It's A Wonderful Life" opens Friday at the Laguna Playhouse. "This Wonderful Life," starring James Leaming, will run through Dec. 24.

Tickets may be purchased at the box office or online at http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

•Montage Laguna Beach will kick off the holiday season Monday with an evening of carols, photo ops with Santa, children's activities and live music, capped by the second annual Christmas tree lighting.

Seasonal beverages and chef's specialties will be served throughout the resort. A gingerbread village will be unveiled and the Hearts of Montage, the employees' charitable wing, will make a special presentation to the Laguna Beach Community Clinic.

RSVPs are requested to get a crowd estimate at the open house. Call (949) 715-6608. For dining reservations, call (949) 715-6420. And for the special rate of $300, folks can spend the night.

•Some Laguna Beach nonprofits will be getting early Christmas presents this year. The Laguna Beach Community Foundation will be awarding grants Thursday.

•The Laguna Beach Woman's Club will not present its popular Tarnished Treasures Luncheon this year.

Instead, the club and the American Assn. of University Women will host a staged reading of "A Holiday Memory" from 7 to 9 p.m Dec. 8 and 9, at the clubhouse on the corner of St. Ann's Drive and Glenneyre Street.

Amy Larson and her husband, Jake Smith, Todd Breaugh and Jane Hilary will be reading a short story by Truman Capote and several smaller pieces by authors such as Steve Martin and O. Henry.

Appetizers and beverages will be served before the performance, coffee and dessert after.

Tickets are $60, $40 tax deductible. Proceeds will benefit the educational programs of the club and the association.

Checks may be mailed to P.J. Gerrard, 2535 Iris Way, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

For more information or to buy tickets, e-mail pjamyouny@cox.net or call (949) 497-9483.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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