Ocean Beach Town Council’s 41st holidays celebration continues this year featuring a “reverse” parade, crooked tree, an auction, and a charitable food and toy drive – a tradition for more than 40 years. All of the many Yuletide events are planned and executed by OB Town Council, which also handles the annual Christmas tree selection and implantation in the beach, which took place Dec. 1.
The community’s parade, the centerpiece of OB’s year-end holidays, will take place Saturday, Dec. 5 from 5 to 9 p.m. Only the parade venue – and rules – have been changed to accommodate safe social distancing.
“It’s hugely different this year,” said OBTC president Mark Winkie of holiday festivities. “We’re calling it a ‘reverse’ parade with stationary floats set up at a cordoned-off Dog Beach. What will happen is people will be able to drive-through and see all the floats and displays, which will be set up in the Dog Beach parking lot in a welcoming way with a little trail they can follow.”
Corey Bruins, OBTC board member, parade committee chair and co-director, said the council’s City-approved reverse parade this year is establishing a brand-new standard.
“Since back in September, we’ve been working with the City and County to put together a set of guidelines for a modified (parade) event with a different format,” Bruins said. “They wrote the guidelines for us, which will be used as a model for how to run events like this in the future. Those guidelines are providing a space for the community to come together in a different way with a vehicle-based event.”
To avoid a traffic jam with the fledgling reverse-parade format, Winkie said: “We’ve allotted time slots for guests to show up. That way, we can monitor and control the amount of flow through the parade. The City and County are happy with what we’re doing. Our protocols will be used as a template for other parades put on through the City and County. Our organization is proud of that.”
Given San Diego recently slipped back into the most-restrictive purple tier, Bruins noted: “We had a lot of discussions about how to make sure everything is safe. A vehicle-based event is really the safest it can possibly get. Displays are not ‘floating’ anywhere and are limited to 10 persons total, when normally they would have 100. Marching bands will have to stay in their own space. Everyone will wear masks and undergo temperature checks.”
Added Bruins, “Mayor-elect Gloria will also be there for a little while. We’re really excited to have his support and have him show.”
HOLIDAY SWAG BAGS
This year there will be no arts and crafts display. But Bruins said swag bags will be dispensed (while they last) to parade goers. Swag bags will feature goodies from all of the reverse-parade entrants and some sponsors, along with a few special OBTC surprises. Three lucky swag bag recipients will receive a $50 gift card to a local restaurant.
SANTA & PARADE JUDGING
Santa will be making an appearance at the reverse parade and there will be a mailbox to drop letters to him. Reservations will be required and a limited number of vehicles will be permitted.
Participants will also judge the parade this year. As they drive through, they’ll be able to cast ballots for the following categories: Best Overall, Best Use of Lights, Best OB Spirit, Best Use of Theme, and Most Unusual.
There will also be a post-parade highlight. “There’s going to be a scavenger hunt set up on Newport,” noted Bruins. “People will be looking for blow-up candy canes. Whoever finds the most will be entered into our raffle.”
HOLIDAY FOOD AND TOY DRIVE
One thing that will be largely the same this year will be the beach community’s annual Holiday Food and Toy Drive co-chaired by Stacie Woehrle and Cameron Reid.
“Thankfully, the contributions have been robust,” said Woehrle. “We anticipate more recipients this year: more people in need. We’re gearing up for about 25% more seniors. And families are still signing up. We anticipate an uptick due to the currrent situation.”
Woehrle said the food distribution is COVID-safe. “The event itself is hands-off,” she said. “People will be loading up their trunks or the back of their cars with packages to do a touch-free delivery.”
On Saturday, Dec. 19, volunteers will still gather at the OB Masonic Lodge at 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. They will help sort through and package food and gifts for distribution.
“We’re going to need help on Dec. 19,” implored Woehrle. “Volunteers can go to our website, obholidays.com, where they can sign up to volunteer. You don’t need to sign up for the 19th (food distribution), just show up masked. Deliveries begin early, around 9 a.m. and last until noon.”
VIRTUAL HOLIDAY GALA
A live and silent auction, awards and more can be glimpsed from the comfort of your living room during OB’s Virtual Holiday Gala Saturday, Dec. 12 from 7 to 8 p.m. A favored tradition and one of the community’s biggest fundraisers, the gala will have a multitude of one-of-a-kind OB auction items available this year. Community award winners will also be announced.
If you'd like to donate to the OB Food and Toy Drive or volunteer, visit obtowncouncil.org.