Countdown to Christmas

Hundreds of residents filled the plaza outside City Hall after hours Wednesday for the city’s 24th annual tree lighting.

For the Benoist family, the annual ceremony is a holiday tradition.

This year, Frank Benoist sat with his wife and son to see the tree and their daughter’s performance with the Glendale High School Chamber Choir.

“We come every year,” he said.

In a change from last year’s event, the ceremony was kicked off with the lighting of the tree.

The 37-foot Nordmann Fir arrived at City Hall this week after being trucked thousands of miles from Washington state.

The 2,000-pound tree was set up in Perkins Plaza on Monday and city employees decorated the tree with large, colorful ornaments throughout the day Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s ceremony.

Parks, Recreation & Community Services Commissioner Steven Ropfogel led the crowd in a countdown to Mayor Frank Quintero flipping the switch, which illuminated the tree with 10,000 colorful lights.

For the first time, the tree was donned with LED-lights, which use a fraction of the energy used by normal lights.

In addition to saving energy, officials said the LED lights also operate at a cooler degree so they reduce the risk of fire.

Audience members were then greeted with performances from La Crescenta Elementary School Bulldog Productions, a musical theater group for fourth- through sixth-graders, and the Glendale High School Chamber Choir, who both sang holiday tunes.

During the elementary students’ rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” many in the audience joined in with the song.

Cecilia Eneberg came out with her 8-year-old son, Stig, and her 12-year-old daughter, Adela, to support the Bulldog group. Adela performed with them last year.

“We came to support our old alma mater,” she said.

The ceremony came to an end when the audience was greeted by the guest of honor — Santa Claus.

The many children in attendance were invited to sit on Santa’s lap and share their holiday gift wishes.

State Sen. Carol Liu, who greeted the audience, said she was glad to join in the festivities.

“It’s a wonderful start to a wonderful season,” she said.

Festivities for all

Residents looking to ring in the holiday season are in luck this weekend when a slew of holiday events take place throughout the city.

“If you’d like to get into the holiday spirit, this weekend is your opportunity,” Development Services Director Philip Lanzafame said at Tuesday’s Redevelopment Agency meeting.

From Adams Square to Montrose, business districts and other locations throughout the city will be hosting a range of holiday festivities. City officials urged residents to frequent one or more of the events.

“We would like to encourage the public to please participate in the many events throughout the city,” City Councilman John Drayman said.

Kenneth Village tree lighting ceremony, 6 p.m. Friday

The Kenneth Village Merchants Assn. will host its first holiday tree lighting ceremony as a part of the group’s recent efforts to generate public interest in the small business strip.

“We are going to have it every year after,” said association president Rene Karapedian.

The free event will feature Santa Claus, Hoover High School carolers and free hot chocolate and cookies.

The ceremony will be in front of the Christmas tree at Kenneth Road between Grandview and Sonora avenues.

Casa Adobe de San Rafael Open House and Fiesta De las Luminarias, Friday through Sunday

Starting Friday, the Casa Adobe de San Rafael, one of the city’s historic houses, will open its doors to the public for its annual open house and Fiesta De las Luminarias event, in which the home is illuminated with candles as guides give a tour.

The open house and Luminarias take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, and a children’s Piñata Party will run between 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday, followed by the open house and Luminarias from 5 to 8 p.m.

The open house will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Casa Adobe de San Rafael is at 1330 Dorothy Drive. For more information, call Kathy Van Houten at (818) 395-1618.

Santa in the Park, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Maple Park

Santa Claus will make a stop at Maple Park Saturday for festivities, including carnival games and crafts. Pictures with Santa will be available for a small fee.

The park is at 820 E. Maple St. For more information, call (818) 548-3785.

Adams Square Christmas Carnival, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday

The Adams Square Merchants Assn. is sponsoring a Christmas Carnival, that will feature children’s rides, face painting, entertainment and a holiday tree lighting about 4 p.m.

About 2 p.m., Santa will arrive on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

“This will be quite a Christmas event,” said association Vice President Carol Cianfrini.

The event will be at the 1100 block of Park Avenue at Adams Street. For more information, call Cianfrini at (818) 247-2909.

Montrose Christmas Parade, 6 p.m. Saturday

Thousands of people are expected to attend the 33rd annual Montrose-Glendale Christmas Parade, which will feature 15 marching bands, equestrian groups, local celebrities, law enforcement officials, scout troupes and local performers.

Santa Claus will kick off the parade by riding overhead in a Glendale Police Department helicopter and will reappear near the parade’s completion.

This year’s Grand Marshall will be Smokey the Bear in honor of local law enforcement and firefighters who worked during the Station fire, said parade coordinator Steve Pierce.

The parade starts at Honolulu and Rosemont avenues and runs east toward Verdugo Road. Parking is available in city parking lots, side streets and surrounding neighborhoods. Officials recommend that people arrive early.

Merry Tuba Christmas, 7 p.m. Sunday, Americana at Brand

The Americana at Brand will be filled with hundreds of tuba and euphonium players of all ages from around Southern California for Merry Tuba Christmas, a musical event that has occurred around the world.

The musicians will play holiday favorites, including sing-along selections.

— Compiled by Melanie Hicken

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