“Actually, it was my late brother, Rich James, who started it,” said Mike James of his family’s business and their historic contribution to the beach community’s annual holiday tree planting and festive parade.
“Rich brought the first tree down in 1980 from Mount Shasta, a 70-foot Star pine,” said Mike. “It was his idea to have a giant tree at the beach.”
Mike James and his surviving brothers Ron, Greg, and Pat will be marching at the head of a kazoo band on Saturday, Dec. 7 commemorating the very first planting of the tree preceding OB’s first-holiday parade.
Mike talked about how Rich got the first parade kick-started.
“The night after they put the first tree in the sand, my brothers went from bar to bar in OB handing out kazoos that you hum into and makes noises,” Mike said. “They all marched doing this impromptu parade down the middle of Newport Avenue to celebrate the tree.”
There has been a tree, and a parade, ever since in OB. Mike James has also doubled as an announcer for the tree lighting, which starts at 5:05 p.m. on Dec. 7 officially starting the parade.
James said entertainment will be furnished by the Ocean Beach Marching Kazoo Band. “Some of the band members are among the original people in the very first parade, as well as our family, friends and former employees,” he said.
James said his family is proud to have begun their community’s annual holiday celebration.
“It is something we take great pride in, something that’s continuing,” he said. “We are thankful that the community still volunteers and keeps this tradition alive. This being the 40th year, it is very special — and nice — to be taking part in the parade as well.”
The annual transplantation of the Christmas tree, always offered by an anonymous donor, to the beach near OB pier took place Dec. 3 at 11 a.m.
That morning, San Diego Police escorted the truck carrying the tree through the OB community to the foot of Newport Avenue in a special place in the sand that was uncovered and cleaned out for it.
Two days later, on Dec. 5, local schoolchildren will make their annual pilgrimage to the OB Christmas tree to see Santa from 9 a.m. to noon, and to add their own hand-made ornaments to hang on it.
“We do have a tree this year that got chosen after being advertised on Facebook and Next Door,” said Grace Quigley, OBTC events chair. She noted such trees “usually are problem trees that are uprooting someone’s sidewalks or needs to be removed for some reason.”
Quigley said this year’s selected OB tree is about 40-feet tall.
Mike James said the first tree brought down by his late brother in 1980 was “straight, tall and absolutely beautiful.”
However, for whatever reason, most trees selected since have been left-leaning – although, this year’s tree seems to be curving to the right.