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Holiday cheer is back this year…really! —podcast

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Claremont Village was seeing its usual traffic of shoppers, tourists and diners. But as the hour was quickly chewed away and 5 p.m. arrived, so did hundreds of Claremont residents, swarming the Depot and Village for the city’s Holiday Promenade and tree lighting ceremony.

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This year’s festivities [which happened the week after Thanksgiving unlike 2020] featured what the city normally whips up for families: photos with Santa Claus, live entertainment and numerous ‘cheer stops’ around downtown. The evening was a step back into what looked like the pre-pandemic normal of 2019, as many gathered without masks to listen to carolers, fill up their phones with photos or watch children chase their friends around.,

Santa Claus made an appearance outside of Claremont City Hall at 5 p.m. and about 15 families were already standing to meet Santa along with Frosty the Snowman. As children and families filtered in to see Mr. Claus, all got to take photos with him and tell Santa what they want most for Christmas. While some like one-year-old Leia Valiente, cried during their photos, frowns quickly faded when city volunteers came to the rescue with sweet candy canes after photos. About 15 families began waiting initially for Santa, but it did not take long past 5 p.m. for more families to begin forming a line that quickly wrapped along Second Street around city hall.

Holiday songs and carolers were staged throughout the Village; however, the Los Angeles based group Voices of Christmas Carolers were the first who took the stage set up at the Claremont Depot at 5 p.m. The group, composed of Don Lucas, Lindsay Kazan, Juliette Angeli and Rusty Hamrick, wowed spectators with their vocal stylings of holiday classics including as ‘A Marshmallow World,’ ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland,’ and ‘the Good Saint Nick.’ The group sang 13 classics before moving about around the Village. After the carolers, the group Dynamite Dawson took the stage for a brief concert where they performed both holiday songs and decades classics.

After an hour of photos and singing, at 6 p.m., Mayor Jennifer Stark, along with members of the Claremont City Council including Mayor Pro Tem Jed Leano, Councilmember Corey Calaycay and Councilmember Sal Medina, thanked all for coming and wished each Claremonter and outsider a very happy holiday season.

Mayor Stark and Pro Tem Leano then picked one lucky Claremont child to light the tree and after, well, no countdown, the young girl immediately flipped the switch and officially kicked off the holiday season in Claremont.

Mayor Stark highlighted this year’s lighting is the first of many for Claremont’s newest Christmas tree after the latter had become too rotted and needed to be removed. A new deodar cedar now occupies the old tree’s corner spot at the Depot. Mayor Stark said before the lighting that the tree is going to be easy to decorate for now as it stands at around 12-feet currently. However, it will only get more challenging, as it will eventually grow over 70-feet during its decades long stay.

COURIER video/Matt Weinberger

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