Photos and Story by C. Jayden Smith
San Clemente residents, families, and friends strolled up and down Avenida Del Mar on Saturday night, Dec. 3, for an evening of holiday excitement during the Santa’s Village by the Sea and Puttin’ on the Glitz events.
Presented by the City of San Clemente along with the San Clemente Downtown Business Association, there was something for everyone to enjoy with games and crafts available for children, hot chocolate and popcorn, and retail shopping. Local organizations and companies, such as the San Clemente Historical Society, also set up booths to introduce themselves to passersby.
Representing the City Council, Mayor Gene James spoke to the crowd during ahead of the tree lighting ceremony on the lawn of the San Clemente Community Center. Outgoing Councilmember Kathy Ward was present for the ceremony as well.
James told San Clemente Times that he enjoyed seeing all the children run around and have fun at Santa’s Village, and that he was looking forward to putting up a Christmas tree and a menorah on the municipal pier.
“I think it’s a great community gathering, especially now that we’re on the other side of (COVID-19) and being able to have an event like this,” James said, adding, “These kids out here in front of this tree? Thirty, 40, 50 years from now, they’ll remember this night.”
He also commended city staff for their efforts in organizing Saturday’s festivities.
“This just doesn’t happen organically,” James said. “You’ve got people planning this weeks in advance and city employees have been working all day closing off the streets, and having the deputies here.”
Santa’s Village, which included a small playplace, snow sledding, decorating activities, and a silent disco, welcomed returning families and attracted new ones such as the Rowe family.
Kelly Rowe said her family heard about the event from friends, and found that it was a great place to take their children for the night.
“The kids have loved it,” said Kelly. “Now, they’re burning off all the sugar (from the night) with the silent disco.”
There have been positives and negatives from the holiday celebration, at least for one owner of a small business on Del Mar.
Lisa Yates, who runs the jewelry and clothing boutique ERBA San Clemente, said Saturday’s atmosphere was festive and community-oriented, but only brings in exposure in lieu of increased sales.
“The downside is that they close the street at 1 p.m. on a Saturday,” Yates said. “So, when you’re a retailer, it kills you … The upside is, we have lots of people here. It’s fun.”
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.