When Principal Stan Bunyan started laying plans weeks ago for a Christmas program at his 15th Street School in San Pedro, the weather was the least of his concerns.
Everybody knows that you can always count on Southern California's weather, even in the winter. Well, almost always.
Bunyan's ambitious plan was to march his 800 students down the street five blocks to the Dana Magnet School on Thursday morning for an interschool Christmas festival.
His choir of 125 elementary school youngsters--"the largest in the region," he said proudly--would unite with the Dana chorus and orchestra for a grand concert attended by at least 2,000 parents, students and teachers.
"Most of my kids come from low-income families," Bunyan said of his predominantly Latino student body. "I wanted to lift up their spirits by showing them the great things we can do in America when we work together."
Along the march route, a detail of Los Angeles police officers would block off traffic at the intersections. Monitors were designated to patrol the long line. Nurses' aides were to be posted at street corners.
"We have all the logistics worked out to the last detail," he said in announcing the event.
That was when the Southern California sun was shining brightly, the way it always does.
Then the skies darkened. The rains came. By Wednesday, an Alaskan storm--practically unheard of in these parts--moved in to squelch the program set for the next morning.
Bunyan regrouped his forces. Volunteers led by school clerk Angie Dimon rushed to decorate the 15th Street auditorium. Coordinators Ken Landsman and Shari Effron quickly revamped the program so that it could go on without the Dana musicians.
And at 10 o'clock, Bunyan's cherubic kids, outfitted in white capes and red and green bows, filed onto the auditorium stage to sing, accompanied by piano, guitar and mandolin (played by Bunyan).
Everybody remarked on how well the children adapted to the sudden change of plans. Parents and students sat quietly, listening to the music. Despite the chill from outside, a warm, peaceful spirit seemed to fill the auditorium.
The kids had the last word on the weather: "Christmas is the warmest time of the year," they sang, "when someone you love is near."