TK Arnold Dreaming Of The Right Christmas

by Thomas K. Arnold on April 14, 2010

Img-1376I want to get the proverbial ball rolling early in Carlsbad for a massive, citywide Christmas-slash-“holiday” celebration centered on the beloved village.

I know December is a long way off. And I realize there are other, much bigger issues of civic concern, including building a long-promised pool complex, unraveling the Village H disaster, and reining in those overblown public-employee benefits.

But can’t we all take a little time out and stage something truly memorable? We’ ve already dropped the ball completely with the Fourth of July. Carlsbad has no parade and no public fireworks display. The closest thing we’ve got is fireworks at Legoland, and the citizens of Carlsbad are so hungry for something, anything even remotely celebratory, that each year they crowd into the business parks west of Legoland to watch the 10-minute show, creating a huge traffic jam.
Christmas is a little better. We’ve got a tree-lighting ceremony in Village Faire, along with entertainment by local dance troupes and the arrival of Santa on an antique fire truck, preceded by a procession of two or three red cars. It’ s put on by the Rotary Club of Carlsbad (disclosure: I am a member), and with a little support from others —- say, the city of Carlsbad, or the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce —- it could really expand into a festive event that shows everyone, once and for all, that Carlsbad knows how to throw a party.

I hereby issue a call for someone to step up and take charge. A council member, the chamber head, someone, anyone! I’ve been working on the blueprint, and here it is:

— Move the Christmas tree lighting to the fountain area at the northwest corner of State and Grand. Close off Grand and State for a block in each direction.

— Invite vendors to sell hot chocolate and hot apple cider, cookies and sprigs of holly and mistletoe.

— Expand the procession into a real parade, with marching high school bands, Army and Navy Academy cadets, war veterans and decorative floats —- including one with Santa perched on top. (Think the city of San Diego’s December Nights, just on a much smaller scale).

— Decorate the entire village with colorful twinkle lights, all along State, Roosevelt, Madison and Jefferson, and up Grand and Carlsbad Village Drive.

— Each weekend, have carolers stroll the streets of the village.

— Plan special events throughout December. Bring in firepits to the parking lot where the Farmers Market is held, and one or two nights each week, let kids roast marshmallows and visit with Santa. Serve cider, chocolate and cookies and let those carolers wail away.

Who’s going to pay for all this? Again, let’s take a page from the December Nights playbook. The city of San Diego is the primary producer, but funding comes from a list of sponsors ranging from SDG&E and Sea World to the Barona Resort and Casino.

There’s no reason Carlsbad can’t follow a similar game plan —- but we have to start now.

So again —-anyone up for a party?

Thomas K. Arnold writes from Carlsbad. Contact him at

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