By Maureen Robertson
Weather may have pulled a “Bah! Humbug!” on Ramona Chamber of Commerce’s 21st annual Christmas Tree Lighting celebration last Saturday, but Santa will be making a return trip to Collier Park at 5:30 p.m. this Saturday.
Children can share their Christmas wishes and have their picture taken with Santa, but the professional photographer won’t be there, so parents should bring their own cameras. Picture-taking will start immediately
after a brief tree lighting ceremony.
“I’m sure Santa will stay there until all the pictures are taken,” said Hans Hemkes, chamber director.
Hemkes, in charge of Christmas Tree Lighting festivities scheduled for last Saturday, said he held out as long as he could, but a combination of weather-related factors resulted in canceling the Dec. 7 event about an hour and a half before its scheduled start.
A steady stream of vehicles arrived at the park to find the “Xmas Tree Lighting Cancelled” message atop one of the outdoor light machines. In the cars, vans and trucks were a variety of disappointed people, ranging from families with young children to senior citizens.
A little bit of rain would have been fine, Hemkes said Saturday afternoon, but the wind created a potentially dangerous situation, particularly if a canopy blew over and hurt someone. In addition, the ground was soggy from the rain, said Bob Murray, chamber president
“The fact that the wind was blowing so bad that trees were sideways made it impossible,” Hemkes said.
“When I showed up, the wind was gusting pretty good,” said Bob Argyelan, chamber executive director. “With respect to the vendors, they would not have been able to put up all their pop-ups and tents.”
“Several vendors had already canceled,” commented Sally Westbrook, chamber director and secretary.
On Saturday, Hemkes said the event would not be rescheduled, but by Monday he and other chamber directors were discussing how to offer something to the community, albeit without all the festivities that would have been held last Saturday.
Considering the other holiday activities scheduled in town and Santa’s busy schedule, the chamber announced on Tuesday morning that the Christmas tree lighting will be Dec. 14 in Collier Park, 626 E St. The event will just be the tree lighting and Santa.
The chamber invested money in equipment rentals, portable toilets and lights, and the decision to cancel wasn’t made lightly, said Argyelan. As of Tuesday morning, the chamber had not heard back from the county regarding the permit issued for the canceled event.
The chamber will post notice of the Dec. 14 event on its website, ramonachamber.com, and in an email blast to all businesses in town, said Argyelan.
“The public and dignitaries are all invited to attend,” he said.
He suggests the public check the website “to see if there is expansion of planned activities.”
Any updates will be posted at www.ramonasentinel.com and on the Sentinel’s Facebook page.
Anyone wishing more information may call the chamber at 760-789-1311.