RANCHO SANTA FE — If people weren’t in the Christmas spirit before the tree lighting outside the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, they should be now. With the scent of a wood fire clinging to the crisp evening air and Christmas music making spirits bright, hardly anyone could remain un-jolly for very long.About 300 people turned out for the inaugural event held on Dec. 2.
“We are hoping to make this an annual tradition,” said Al Castro, general manger of the golf club, who launched the idea.
He said he hoped that people would look forward to the event each year, especially those with small children.
“We hope this can be a family tradition to make memories the community can look back on for years to come,” Castro said.
While people waited for night to fall and the official lighting of the tree, they were treated to tables laden with Christmas cookies and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream or marshmallows. There was coffee and tea for those who preferred them.
The little ones, hardly containing their excitement, played tag around the tree waiting for things to get started.
“We wanted to come out and see the first annual tree lighting,” said Garth Jacobsen, keeping his eye on sons Ross, 4, and Harrison, 3.
While the kids played the older set chatted with their neighbors and friends and sampled the treats.
“I came to see the tree lit, hear some carols and have some goodies,” said longtime Rancho Santa Fe resident Jo Zolin, nibbling on a cookie.
Soon the Full Measure Carolers stood before the tree and sang perfectly harmonized Christmas carols. They were dressed in authentic-looking Dickens-style costumes, the men wearing top hats and the women bonnets.
Then the moment everyone had been waiting for — the countdown for the tree lighting. Then magic! Ooohs. Ahs. And then applause.
“We don’t have Christmas trees like this,” said Cecilia Hilgers, who is visiting relatives in Rancho Santa Fe from Sweden, holding 3-year-old daughter Julia. “I mean, we have Christmas trees, but they are not this extravagant.”
Castro told the crowd that everyone on his staff had such a good time decorating the tree and organizing the event that they look forward to doing it every year.
Those wishing to have a permanent memento of the evening could have family photos taken inside the clubhouse.
Of course, the big sale at the pro-shop at the golf club, coinciding with the tree lighting helped raise spirits as well.