Hundreds of Big Bear locals braved freezing temperatures Dec. 9 to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree on the corner of Pine Knot Avenue and Village Drive in the Big Bear Lake Village. This annual seasonal celebration usually occurs on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but this year the tree lighting was delayed due to the heavy snows Big Bear Valley experienced during the November holiday weekend.

Although Santa and Mrs. Claus did not enter on a fire truck as they traditionally do, they were in residence in the little red house in the Village, greeting children throughout the evening.

After their visit with Santa, families could enjoy sweet treats for sale by the Big Bear Elementary School Boosters. The Lions Club was set up across the way, giving away cups of steaming hot cocoa and hot cider, which was very welcome in the cold winter air. Members of the Lions Club also handed out free pillow pets for the kids and sold tickets to win a chainsaw. The stores that remained open during the event received a ton of foot traffic as spectators wandered indoors to get warm.

Master of Ceremonies Steve Cassling kicked off the event at 7 p.m., followed by the Carnegie Kids. The group lit up the stage, performing a set of rollicking Christmas carols for the crowd. Next, members of the Big Bear Lake City Council shared their thoughts about Big Bear and the holiday season.

At 7:45 p.m., the count down began, the crowd anticipating the lighting of the tree. Finally, the Christmas tree was illuminated in a twinkling of multi-colored lights as cheers rang through the streets. What started as a setback with the postponement of the original event, ended up being a cozy community affair with a feeling of neighborly camaraderie.

—Victoria Heerschap for the Big Bear Grizzly

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