I have a lot of friends who moved to California from other, less tropical climates. They tend to gush on and on about how much they love our warm weather... until the holidays roll around. That's when their love of living in 70-degree sunshine turns sour.
"It just doesn't feel like Christmas here," they whine.
I blame Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin for perpetuating the idea that Christmas ain't Christmas unless you're shoveling yourself out from a thick layer of snow.
As an LA native, my Christmas memories include palm trees and swimming pools. But I realize there aren't that many of us natives living here. Maybe that's why so many of our local communities pull out all the stops for their holiday decorating. A number of them are holding public tree lighting ceremonies (with some of them occurring this month!) Here are a few:
GLENDALE: Americana at Brand
889 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210
As we reported here at CBS Local, the region's first 100-foot Christmas tree of the season was installed here on October 27. It's currently getting decked out with 15,000 ornaments and 10,000 lights, which will be turned on at a holiday Christmas show here Thursday, November 18.
As part of the tree arrival, Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Greater Los Angeles will unwrap the exclusive campaign details for its 2010 Season of Wishes® holiday season campaign, including the announcement of Weekly Wish Nights at The Americana at Brand and The Grove, as well as the unveiling of the face of this year's campaign, 5-year-old wish-child, Miranda Wechsler.
COSTA MESA: Town Center Park
686 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Town Center Park plays host to Orange County High School of the Arts and a 96' tree in what's become one of Orange County's best-loved holiday traditions, the arrival of Santa and the lighting of the tree. The following day, head over to the adjacent South Coast Plaza shopping center for more holiday entertainment and fun, including a Santa's Village with children's crafts, Santa's Express Train, and of course, Santa.
LOS ANGELES: The Grove
189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036
The Americana's sister shopping center, The Grove, will be holding a similar ceremony on November 21. This one will also kick off a seasonal benefit for the Make A Wish Foundation. More information on that campaign can be found on the charity's website: http://www.wishla.org/node/1517
RIVERSIDE: The Mission Inn
3649 Mission Inn Ave.
Riverside, CA 92501
The "Switch on Ceremony" kicks off Riverside's Festival of Lights at 6:15 p.m., at the historic Mission Inn and concludes that evening with fireworks.
Over the next five weeks, families can enjoy the holiday decorations and lights at the hotel and along Mission Inn Avenue and on City-owned buildings; the Inland Empire's first outdoor ice skating rink; holiday-themed vendors; family-friendly live entertainment; and of course, Santa Claus.
LONG BEACH: The Queen Mary
1126 Queen's Highway
Long Beach, CA 90802
This is the 17th year for Long Beach's Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Queen Mary.
Admission is free, and the gates will open at 4:00 p.m. for the 5:30 event, which will also feature musical performances and complimentary refreshments on the ship's Sun Deck Stage.
Members of the Long Beach Fire Department will also be on hand to accept unwrapped toys for their "Spark of Love" Holiday Toy Drive.
BURBANK: Burbank City Hall
275 East Olive Avenue
Burbank, CA 91502
Burbank's Mayor and celebrity guests will be at City Hall to light the tree and kick off the city's "12 Days of Holiday Cheer" celebration. They promise "lots of festive events, live entertainment, free gifts, holiday goodies and more."
BELLFLOWER: Friendship Square
Bellflower Blvd & Belmont St
Bellflower, CA 90706
(562) 804-1424 ext. 2268.
Arrive by 6:30 p.m. for this free event. After lighting the tree, families will have the opportunity to visit with Santa Claus, enjoy a hayride, listen to carolers and enjoy a skating rink.
ALTADENA: Altadena Public Library
600 E. Mariposa Avenue
Altadena, CA 91001
This is probably the longest-running tree lighting ceremony in all of Southern California: For 89 Decembers, the residents of Altadena have been lighting up a mile-long stretch of deodar trees that is now listed on the California Historical Register as Christmas Tree Lane.
The lights usually go on the second Saturday in December and are lit each evening through the first of the year.
This year's event kicks off at 2:00 p.m. with a holiday arts and crafts fair in the Library parking lot, with the official lighting of the trees beginning at 6:00 p.m.
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