Alexandra de Leon
Old Town La Verne got into the festive spirit of the holidays Saturday in Mainiero Square for its eighth annual Christmas tree lighting and holiday open house.
Traditions such as taking photos with Santa, cookie decorating, and Christmas caroling were all a part of the holiday event.
The event that originally started to promote and get more residents to come to the Old Town La Verne businesses has now turned into a family tradition for many.
“All the businesses participate, and restaurants give away free goods like cookie decorating,” said Craig Walters, chairman of the Old Town La Verne Business District.
The holiday open house was filled with performances from Ramona Middle School Jazz Combo, La Verne Gymnastics, dance performances and of course hot chocolate and cookies.
“It’s really another example of La Verne doing things just to get people together for fun times,” La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick said.
The Ramona Middle School Jazz Combo performed for the first time and kicked off the tree lighting ceremony by singing many family favorite Christmas carols like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”
“Watching the kids dance when the music comes, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Kendrick said. “When these young kids are here and the families are here that just says it all.”
Many La Verne residents, like Jenn Elftman, who has been coming for two years, have turned this event into a family tradition.
“Visiting Santa was my favorite part, especially for my kids,” Elftman said.
Attendees were surprised by a visit from Santa. The most popular event, according to residents, was the photos with Santa. Children of all ages, parents and dogs went to have their picture taken on Santa’s lap and were given a free picture to take home.
With the crowd counting down from 10, all of the lights went out as the tree was lit up. Once lit, the Ramona Middle School Jazz Combo led the crowds with sing-a-longs of carols.
To keep with many of the traditions the tree lighting has always had, the night ended with a reading of the book “The Night Before Christmas” by La Verne Community Development Director Hal Fredericksen.
Fredericksen has been doing the holiday open house for the past 16 years.
With La Verne being a small town, he noticed the growth of the surrounding businesses and the crowds that come to the event.
“My favorite part is seeing the smiles of the kids. Essentially, that is what our whole open house is about– putting smiles on the kids faces,” Fredericksen said.
Alexandra de Leon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.