It was only the second year for the Los Alamitos Young Professionals Group’s Winter Wonderland at the Plaza, but the horde of kids who descended on St. Isidore Historical Plaza on Saturday, Dec. 7, didn’t seem to mind. They were too busy sledding down the snow slide or scrambling for ammunition for a snowball fight.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Rocco Ramirez and his older sister Sienna from Long Beach were among those enjoying the snow. A neighbor told them (and their dad Andy) about the event and invited them to come along.
Entertainment throughout the evening was provided by schools in the Los Alamitos Unified School District, as well as munchkins from the Ready, Set, Go! preschool program and other children’s groups. The kids on stage exuberantly sang and danced to many different Christmas songs to the delight of their parents in the audience.
Santa’s Village featured a number of booths with activities for kids and shopping for grown-ups, as well as food trucks serving up both hot and cold treats.
Santa Claus himself arrived in style, carried in the cab of a fire engine from Orange County Fire Authority Station 2. He took photos with the kids and heard their Christmas wishes.
Many visitors to the Winter Wonderland also brought canned goods to donate to a drive supporting local charities. The goal for the drive, sponsored by the Los Alamitos Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bandai Foundation, is to fill up a box truck.
The previous year’s event, which also battled bad weather, attracted over 1,200 visitors. The second annual Winter Wonderland at the Plaza was likewise a fantastic success, despite rain earlier in the day and chilly temperatures throughout the evening. According to the Los Alamitos Area Chamber of Commerce, attendance numbered more than 2,500 strong.
“There was a great turnout,” said Los Alamitos City Councilman Troy Edgar, who attended the event with other City officials. “We’re grateful for the community supporting the event.”
Mr. Edgar was joined by fellow City Councilmembers Richard Murphy and Dean Grose, as well as Mayor Pro Tem Gerry Graham-Mejia. Mayor Warren Kusumoto was unable to attend the Winter Wonderland, but sent his regards.
Josh Wilson of Southland Credit Union, chairman of the board for the Young Professionals Group and emcee for the evening, gave a lot of well-deserved praise to the event’s sponsors, particularly the Bandai Foundation, a non-profit group that supports charities aimed at children.
“We’re members of this community, so we like to help out where we can,” humbly explained Bandai Director of Marketing Georgia Manolas.
The official tree lighting ceremony was accompanied by upbeat Christmas songs performed by members of the Oak Middle School choir.
For more information about primary sponsor Bandai Foundation and their charitable efforts, visit their website.
Members of the Oak Middle School Choir perform during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the 2013 Winter Wonderland at the Plaza. Photo by Katie Wiedel.