Holiday décor, vendor shopping and Santa sightings were some of the many eye-catching scenes at the annual downtown Vista Winterfest on Dec. 2 at the Cinepolis Plaza. Hosted by the Vista Business Association, the free event attracted droves of families gearing up for some seasonal spirit. Cinepolis was the major sponsor and also did some fundraising for the day — proceeds from the $3 ticket entry to watch “Polar Express” went to Visions of Children.
“We were happy to facilitate Cinepolis’ fundraising efforts for Visions of Children,” said David Mears of Legendary Events. “This nonprofit helps blind children with needs and services to support them.”
Throughout the day, a roster of activities took place such as an official Color Guard Ceremony championed by the NSD Young Marines. Miss Pride of Vista Princess Allyce Callowy sang the National Anthem and Miss Teen Pride of Vista Jessica Heatherly translated it into American Sign Language.
A medley of holiday tunes was showcased by the Royal Court Singers of Empresa Elementary.
From there a flurry of wintertime activities took place such as photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a scavenger hunt, a snowball toss challenge, contests such as Ugly Sweater and Snow Ball eating, a Christmas Tree cupcake decorating station, and a popcorn garland necklace station and more.
A crowd gathered the silent auction area for their Christmas Tree Parade bids. The Christmas Tree Parade was led by the Pride of Vista Lions.
“We decided to partner with David and Legendary Events because we know there is a need in the community and proceeds from these Christmas trees go to local charities,” said Pride of Vista Lion Eleanor Hutchins. “The trees were donated by Home Depot and Lowes here in Vista and JDog Junk Removal and Hauling will deliver the trees to the winners of the auction.”
Local charities from the silent auctions include The Woman’s Club of Vista, Soroptimist of Vista & North County Inland, Community Projects, Civitan International, Operation Hope, Pride of Vista Scholarship Pageants.
Local artist Paul Kaufman decorated two of the Christmas Trees.
“The Parade of Christmas Trees allows people to bid on different Christmas trees that have been professionally decorated to help raise money for local charities,” Mears said. “The day is really an overall community outreach that culminates into a holiday festival and a magical tree lighting ceremony.”
The big man himself, Santa, took a North Pole break to be on hand for the Santa Look-Alike Contest.
Other entertainment for the day included Ballet Folkloric Dancers and Tanya’s Dance Troupe.
During the tree lighting ceremony local jazz favorite Celeste showcased her talents in a special ensemble, Celeste Sings the Holidays.
“At the tree lighting, it was great to have the local cast from ‘Annie’ at the Star Theater sing along Christmas carols with Celeste,” said Mears, adding that it enhanced the sing-along experience for everyone.
Mears said the Winterfest started nearly a decade ago with humble beginnings.
“Years ago, it started out as a simple paper tree hanging on a wall that people met at and sang songs,” Mears said. “Today, this event has evolved into a full-fledged festival, with the tree lighting culmination at the end.”
Once the tree lighting was complete, participants made a beeline to Cinepolis to watch “Polar Express.”
While the overall Winterfest has changed over the years, it holds a classic Christmastime charm.
The Holiday Bazaar with handpicked vendors was also in full swing for the holiday shoppers.
“The Vista Winterfest continues to offer a full experience for the community, families, and people of all ages while supporting charities during this special time of year,” Mears said.