By Jackie HOUCHIN
The joy of the Christmas season was evidenced in the many activities available in Sunland-Tujunga on Saturday. Residents started the day at the McGroarty Arts Center’s annual Holiday Boutique and Chili Bowl Sale.
Students from a dozen ceramics classes donated hundreds of bowls in all colors and shapes. Holiday visitors could choose their bowl, progress to steaming pots of chili for a giant ladleful, add a variety of toppings and grab a square of jalapeno cornbread for $10. Bowls without chili sold for $8 and many savvy shoppers bought stacks of them.
McGroarty Arts Center staff and volunteers also baked an assortment of desserts to tempt visitors. Not many could resist a cookie, cupcake, fudge or a slice of pumpkin bread or apple pie to finish off their lunch.
Inside the center, vendors offered homemade jewelry, pottery, fragrant soaps, oil paintings, lavender filled “comfort bags” and honey products, donating 20% of their take to the Arts Center.
Bags bulging with Christmas gifts and bellies full of chili, folks made their way to Bolton Hall Museum for the Little Landers Historical Society’s annual holiday party. There the Randy Van Horne Singers entertained with their “space-age pop” style of music. Old standards and new arrangements kept the audience of 85 swaying and tapping their toes.
“I loved how they interacted with the audience and invited us to sing along,” said one young man.
“It was a musical feast,” added Regina Clark.
Franny McCartney, a member of the Van Horne Singers and considered a Tujunga “treasure” by many, emceed the program and kept the audience hooting with her sense of humor. Her “Santa Baby” parody (updated to 2011) brought howls of laughter.
McCartney supervised the drawing of raffle tickets for dozens of donated “gently used” items under the tree. Besides a Rhodolite Garnet necklace (donated by Lydia Grant), the most sought-after item was a 12-inch stuffed Santa Mouse, won by Dr. John McGroarty (not directly related to the famed S-T celebrity) and Patti Kelly.
LLHS volunteers provided refreshments, using recipes from their own Little Landers Historical Society Community Cookbook (available at Bolton Hall for $15). Two recipes were knock out favorites, the Hobo Stew on page 147 and the Pina-Colada Cake on page 178.
Activities then moved outside to Little Landers Park where children gathered in parkas, boots and mittens for the expected “snow storm.” Due to technical difficulties, the promised snow was two hours late in coming, but as LLHS Past President and Former Honorary Mayor Lloyd Hitt said, “You just can’t depend on Mother Nature.”
Teens from the Verdugo Hills High School Interact Club sold cookies, hot chocolate and apple cider as the temperature dropped. Interact is a junior service club sponsored by the Rotary.
Entertainment was provided by New Hope Church Tapestry Ministry Band, the VHHS Glee Club and Cheerleaders and the Dickens Carolers from the Church of Scientology wearing authentic1800’s costumes. Cile Borman sang and led in Christmas carols.
As the band broke into “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Santa and Mrs. Claus (Arthur and Terry Moore) arrived. Children flocked to them, climbing on his lap while parents snapped pictures.
It was apparent that attendees enjoyed the festivities by comments overheard. “It’s nice to have a community event like this. We need more of them,” said one woman in a Santa’s hat.
“This is such a nice little community place,” agreed an older lady in a wheel chair strung with Christmas lights.
Rotary Club President Richard Stewart asked visiting U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff to say a few words, thanking all who made Winterfest a success, and then signaled Lloyd Hitt to “hit the switch” to light the Christmas tree.
The 18-foot pine, donated by Michael Lucas of Galpin Ford, had been decorated the evening before. Discreet solar cells tucked under the tree will keep the lights burning 24/7 without electricity.
“This event just keeps getting bigger and better,” said Hitt. “And this is the first time it has ever snowed at Bolton Hall!”
Shouts of excitement erupted when at last the Long Beach Ice Company blowers fired up and began spraying 10 tons of snow across the lawn. Children and adults darted in and out of the “snow storm,” flinging the fluffy stuff over heads, making snow balls and snow angels, shrieking, slipping and sliding, and laughing.
“I’ve never seen kids so happy,” said one dad.
“It’s awesome!” “It’s beautiful!” were heard throughout the crowd.
It’s Christmas in Tujunga.