Last year's Christmas tree being installed at the end of Newport Avenue in November. THOMAS MELVILLE / PENINSULA BEACON
Ocean Beach has outdone itself preparing for the 2019 year-end holiday. This year, the beach community has pulled out all the stops, doing everything from creating its own craft brew to implementing its annual Christmas parade and toy and food drives, as well as hosting a craft fair, a home-decorating contest and a holiday auction.
All of the many Yuletide events are planned and executed by OB Town Council, which also handles the annual Christmas Tree selection, ensuring the chosen tree is transported to, planted in, and decorated on the beach.
As quintessentially OB as the summer street fair, the farmers market or the mermaid, the annual transplantation of the Christmas tree to the beach near the pier will be Tuesday, Dec. 3 with the tree arriving at 11 a.m.
The tree is always offered by an anonymous donor from within OB.
“We do have a tree that just got chosen after being advertised on Facebook and Next Door,” said Grace Quigley, OBTC events chair. “Usually, it’s a problem tree that’s uprooting someone’s sidewalks or needs to be removed for some reason.”
On the morning of Dec. 3, San Diego Police will escort the truck carrying the tree through the OB community to the foot of Newport Avenue in a special place in the sand that will be uncovered and cleaned out for it.
Two days later, this year 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 the tree.
Quigley said this year’s selected tree is about 40-feet tall. “The kids will come down from OB Elementary School to decorate it,” she said.
This marks the 40th year of the “gifting” of OB’s Christmas tree. It is a tradition that was begun by iconic OB beach business The James Gang printers.
“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 community activist Claudia 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’s shining moment will come at 5:05 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, when its lighting commences the long-awaited OB Christmas parade. The tree remains embedded in the beach until Jan. 2.
Community beer collaboration
About a dozen brewers from major San Diego breweries got together to create a collaboration holiday beer that will be served around Ocean Beach during December.
The beer will be named after the famed holiday Christmas tree that Ocean Beach hosts at the beach that famously leans to the left no matter what.
Of the joint brew, Quigley of OBTC said: “It is a collaborative beer that will be named Crooked Tree, and was brewed in November at Pizza Port. It is a red IPA, and it will be ready by Dec. 7 in time for the OB Holiday Parade.”
Added Quigley of Crooked Tree beer proceeds, “It was a fundraiser this year to offset the cost of the parade and the toy and food drive.”
40th annual OB Holiday Parade
An iconic business, the James Gang Brothers printers, and silk screening, has been chosen to be grand marshal in this year’s parade.
“The parade is a tribute to them because they’re the ones who started this whole tradition with the parade and the Christmas tree,” noted Quigley.
Quigley said they’re expecting some 112 floats and parade entries this year, for the 1 1/2-hour parade that kicks-off at 5:05 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. The parade runs from Sunset Cliffs Boulevard down Newport Avenue, turning the corner at Abbot Street where entries will be reviewed by judges.
Quigley said a special VIP deck section, with seats selling for $88, has been reserved on the Wonderland/Surf Lodge building deck where guests can have the best views and will be served snacks and beverages.
“It’s premiere viewing, and the money goes back toward helping to fund the parade,” said Quigley.
Jack noted that Vera the mermaid, OB’s de facto mascot who debuted with a float in last year’s parade, will again be part of the parade festivities. Jack hinted Vera has a special “surprise” in store.
The OB parade commences immediately following the lighting of the holiday tree.
OB Holiday Auction
OBTC extends an open invitation to attend the annual OB Holiday Auction, a benefit fundraiser for the OB Food and Toy Drive, at Sunshine Company Saloon on Thursday, Dec. 5 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at 5028 Newport Ave.
“Two days before the parade, Sunshine Saloon will have a lot of gift baskets and gift cards donated from a lot of the businesses in town,” said OBTC’s Quigley noting “vintage” holiday T-shirts from past OB events will be among the goodies available at the auction.
Town Council fundraising each year at this event allows it to adopt numerous OB families and seniors in need. Don’t miss your chance to bid on and win fantastic prizes from local businesses and sports teams.
The silent auction kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and the live auction gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Those interested in donating an auction item may contact OBTC at email@example.com.
Holiday Homes Decoration Contest
The best-dressed homes competition is the final event of the OB holiday season. Decorated homes will be judged in various categories including best use of lighting, judge’s choice, best theme and most original decoration.
Winners will be recognized and presented with plaques following judging on Sunday, Dec. 15.
To qualify, homes must be located in OB’s 92107 ZIP Code.
Event chair Mike Akey, an OBTC member, said he usually gets eight or more applications for the contest, mostly after Thanksgiving. He said judges personally check out all of the decorated homes.
“We love doing it,” said Akey who started the contest 15 years or more ago.
“It’s good for all the neighborhoods to get involved with the holiday spirit. We’re pleased that people take an interest in it. It’s for the food and toy drive.”
Those wishing to participate should call 619-316-3403 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OB HOLIDAY EVENTS
- Nov. 30 – Shop Small Business Saturday
- Dec. 3 – Christmas tree arrives on the beach 11 a.m. in front of pier
- Dec. 5 – Students from OB Elementary decorate the Christmas tree with Santa 9 a.m., OB Holiday Auction at Sunshine Company, 5:30-9 p.m. To donate items, email email@example.com.
- Dec. 7, 14, 21 – Craft Fair at Veterans Plaza
- Dec. 7 – 40th annual OB Holiday Parade at 5:05 p.m. on Newport Avenue. Lighting of the Christmas tree will start the parade.
- Dec. 9-12 – Annual Food and Toy Drive at Masonic Hall, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
- Dec. 14 – Annual Food and Toy Drive distribution to families and seniors from Masonic Hall
- Dec. 15 – Holiday Homes Decoration Contest. The best dressed 92107 holiday homes will be judged from 6-9 p.m.