First published in the Dec. 9 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Children gleefully prancing through snow with reindeer grazing nearby may sound like the dreamy winters of fairytales, but last Friday Memorial Park was transformed into a white wonderland for the chamber of commerce’s 27th annual Festival in Lights celebration.
The beloved event was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making this year’s gathering all the more meaningful.
Mayor Terry Walker of La Cañada Flintridge said the occasion was the perfect way to lift herself out of the pandemic, just in time for what’s often considered the most wonderful time of year.
“All of these children running around without a care in the world — it’s a giant upper,” Walker said. “It’s tradition, it’s community coming together, and it’s the holiday season, which we are all grateful for — to live in a city where we can have this kind of event when there’s so much strife in the world. It’s a special evening, and I think it’s a great way to kick off the holidays.”
With the inviting sound of live Christmas carols, the chamber welcomed about 300 guests to its holiday cheer-filled function, complete with a visit from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, which was sponsored by Taylor’s Steakhouse. The jolly couple’s flashy entrance in a red sports car created a flurry of parents and children alike eager to get in line.
“The excitement of seeing Santa arrive in a sea of so many happy people reminds me of a time when I was little and how excited I was to see Santa,” Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Pat Anderson said.
Another highly anticipated moment of the celebration was the introduction of the 2022 Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court, who received bouquets of flowers from the current Miss LCF and princesses. The new court included Uma Wittenberg, Siran Khachatourian and Lena Bolotin of La Cañada High School; Erin Carney of Flintridge Heart Academy; and Amelie Besch of Flintridge Preparatory School.
Katherine Markgraf, the Miss LCF Royal Court adviser, said that this longstanding tradition celebrates young women who work hard and care about making a positive impact.
“We want to support youth who are trying to make the world a better place,” said Markgraf, who was a princess while attending LCHS in 1987.
“For the young women, I hope this opportunity gives them a chance to continue to get to know their community, the people that live here and the businesses. … I get excited to imagine what they will do next after college and after they enter their professions,” she added.
Walker said she values the shared effort that went into making cherished experiences and memories possible for local residents.
“I’m very thankful to the chamber of commerce that puts this on every year and the businesses that support the chamber,” she said, “because without them, we wouldn’t have this event and many other events in our town.”