With all the visits Santa plans to make at malls around Orange County in the next few weeks, it's a wonder the old gentleman has any energy left for his Christmas rounds. Today--traditionally retailers' busiest day of the year--could be St. Nick's second-busiest day of the year.
Along with Santa visits, area malls will sponsor a range of activities throughout the next four weeks. Here's what's going on:
South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa
The largest of Orange County's malls is aiming for a Christmas program to match its glamorous image. Beginning today, children can visit Santa at his workshop, Santasfaction, in Carousel Court, where games and entertainment will be held throughout the holiday season. Tonight at 7 in Crystal Court, a 50-foot Great Fantasy tree, surrounded by 16-foot Santas, Victorian houses and electric trains, will be shimmering with 4,000 lights. Across the street on Monday, a 90-foot Sierra Nevada conifer will be ablaze with 6,000 lights at Town Center when the Segerstrom family (owners of South Coast Plaza) throws the switch. The lighting ceremony will be to the accompaniment of the All American Boys Choir.
A Santasfaction Breakfast will be held Dec. 6 from 8 to 11 a.m. in Carousel Court. Children and their families can eat and visit with Santa, with proceeds benefiting Providence Speech and Hearing Center. Call (714) 639-4990 for tickets ($10 for adults; $5 for children 12 and younger) and reservations.
Also planned are two English holiday teas with Peter Rabbit for children on Dec. 5 and 12 at South Coast Village, across the street from South Coast Plaza at Sunflower Avenue and Bear Street. Call (714) 241-1700 for reservations for the free event. The Village officially begins its holiday shopping season Sunday with free gingerbread and wassail, caroling and performances by the Pacific Brass Quintet from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Kris Kringle will be on hand, and 100-foot candy canes will be on display.
Newport Center Fashion Island
Santa arrives today at 10 a.m. in the information center area near J.W. Robinson's. Today also issues in Winterfest, a music and entertainment program featuring strolling carolers, violinists, a harp and flute duo and bell ringers performing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas. Every Saturday and Sunday, beginning this weekend, an electric train will chug through the Bullocks Wilshire wing. This Saturday night, sing-along caroling at 5 p.m. will precede the lighting of a 110-foot white fir at 6 p.m., followed by complimentary hot chocolate and cookies. Festivities will be held outside Neiman-Marcus and the Broadway stores.
Santa is already ensconced and will remain until Christmas. The Villa Park Ballet will perform excerpts from "The Nutcracker" at noon Dec. 6 and at 4 p.m. Dec. 12. The Rancho Santiago Singers will perform at 2 p.m. Dec. 12. And the Santa Ana High School Chorale Ensemble will perform at 6 p.m. Dec. 17.
Children ages 3 to 10 can register anytime at the mall for membership in Club Santa, a game and crafts activity hour every Tuesday night at 7. Children and their parents will make ornaments, gifts and plant baby Christmas trees on Tuesdays, and on Saturdays, Dec. 5 and 12, can attend a "Cans" film festival where kids will see a free movie at an AMC Theater and donate a can of food for needy families. For more information, call 547-7800.
Santa arrived with some fanfare last week. A parade of local children led him to his chair in the middle of the mall, where he will be handing out crayons and coloring sheets through Christmas Eve. The mall also has teamed up with Operation Santa Claus, a local charity, to provide underprivileged children gifts from its ornament tree outside the May Co. Customers pick up an ornament with a child's name on it, provide a gift for the child and return it to the tree. Also, a variety of community groups, including the El Dorado High Vocal Ensemble, the South Coast Brass and Pilgrim Players, will perform throughout the season.
La Habra Fashion Square
Santa arrives at 10:30 this morning on a horse-drawn carriage, which will be available for children's rides as well. The event also will include strolling puppets, a band, a Christmas princess and free gifts. On Dec. 5, the Green Hills Baptist Choir will perform, and on Dec. 12 a signing Santa will be on hand for hearing-impaired children. The mall is co-sponsoring a program with the City of La Habra in which underprivileged children will receive gifts from the Tree of Friendship. Customers select a scroll from Santa's House in the middle of the mall and provide a gift for the child whose name appears on the scroll.
The City Shopping Center, Orange