Locally-sourced Christmas tree adds to holiday spirit in Ocean Beach
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 11/28/18 - 08:00 AM | 3658 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A surfer walks by the left-leaning Ocean Beach Christmas tree, which was installed on Nov. 27. / Photo by Thomas Melville
A surfer walks by the left-leaning Ocean Beach Christmas tree, which was installed on Nov. 27. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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An aerial view of the Ocean Beach Christmas tree and Veterans Plaza on Tuesday morning. / Photo by Josh Utley
An aerial view of the Ocean Beach Christmas tree and Veterans Plaza on Tuesday morning. / Photo by Josh Utley
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It’s as quintessentially OB as the Street Fair, farmers market or the mermaid.

We’re talking about the annual year’s-end Christmas tree transplanted from elsewhere in the community to the beach near the pier.

As usual, Claudia Jack of Ocean Beach MainStreet Association (OBMA) was chair this year of the OB Tree Project. And she has a story to share about this season’s Christmas pine, which was put in place with a crane Nov. 27.

“The tree is local, and it was donated by someone who was having problems with the roots undermining their sidewalk, so it had to go,” said Jack, noting the donor’s wish to remain anonymous.

On the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 27, San Diego police escorted the truck carrying the tree through the OB community to the foot of Newport Avenue, where a sleeve, or manhole in the sand, had been uncovered and cleaned out specially for it. 

Once the tree was settled and placed into the sleeve, it was time to put the electrical wiring in place and add the lights, topping it with a star. Soon to follow were blown-up beach ball decorations hung on the tree.

On the Saturday after the tree is planted, this year on Dec. 1, children from local schools will make their annual pilgrimage there to see Santa from 9 a.m. to noon. They will add their own hand-made ornaments to hang on the tree. The tree’s shining moment follows at 5:05 p.m. that same day, when the OB Christmas parade starts. 

Jack noted this is the 39th year of the “gifting” of OB’s Christmas tree. It is a tradition born nearly four decades ago started by The James Gang printers, an iconic OB beach business.

“Way back when, [OB] had a tree in a planter by the beach growing for two or three years, then it died and somebody set it on fire,” said Jack. “We then moved the tree to Dusty Rhodes Park. But the tree was taken out during storms there 10 or 12 years ago. Ever since, we’ve moved it down to the beach.”

The tree remains embedded in the beach until Jan. 2, when it is taken down.

“The City chops it up, takes it to Fiesta Island, and turns it into mulch,” said Jack, who added OB’s Christmas tree is a joyful thing at a joyful time of year.

“It’s a tree for many, many people, some who don’t have their own tree,” Jack noted.

Jack has been double busy this year, working as well on a committee to bring back the mermaid, Marina, to be renamed Vera, who graced Ross Rock at Sunset Cliffs for a time before being absconded.

“Marina went for a swim, and never came back,” said Jack, adding her reincarnation is her sister, Vera. “The mermaid will come alive and be in the parade on the lifeguard boat, where she will be paired with 10 little mermaid girls,” she said.

Instead of topping a rock, Vera is to be a “guest” rotating between several OB businesses throughout the year in her new role as a community ambassadors and beacon, Jack said.

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