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Getting Into the Spirit

Southland brings on the holidays with traditional celebrations, attractions.

November 30, 2000|LAURIE K. SCHENDEN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It's Christmastime in the city. While icicles and sleigh bells are not normally a part of a Southern California Christmas, there are many holiday traditions that put Southlanders in the holiday spirit.

This weekend, numerous communities will hang tinsel and turn on the twinkling lights during some festive hometown celebrations.

Descanso Gardens will be transformed for the Holiday in the Garden, a tradition of more than 30 years at the 165-acre public garden. For nine days beginning Saturday, Descanso will offer free tram tours, a holiday crafts bazaar, demonstrations of woodcarving, jewelry making and other crafts, live holiday music, rides on the Enchanted Railroad ($1.50) through the camellia forest and visits with Santa. Each room of the historic Boddy mansion will be decorated for the holidays by a different designer. On Dec. 8, the garden will host a special holiday lighting ceremony with big-band music at the Boddy House, 5:30-8 p.m.

* Holiday in the Garden, Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada-Flintridge, Saturday-Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (garden hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.). Included in garden admission: $5; seniors and students with ID, $3; ages 6-12, $1. (818) 952-4401.

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On Sunday, the city of Downey hosts one of the oldest holiday celebrations around: the 49th annual Holiday Lane Parade. The contingent of floats, marching bands and equestrians will step off at Brookshire Avenue and Lexington Road at 1:30 p.m., making its way to Downey City Hall .

* Holiday Lane Parade, Sunday, 1:30-3:30 p.m., Brookshire Avenue, Downey. Free. (562) 923-2191.

Head to the waterfront community of Belmont Shore in Long Beach for the annual lighted Christmas parade, Holiday Lights Aglow, Saturday at 6 p.m. More than two dozen floats and 17 marching bands from L.A., Orange and Riverside counties will make their way down 2nd Street. A shuttle from the Marina Drive parking lot to Bay Shore is available for $2 round trip.

* Belmont Shore Christmas Parade, Saturday, 6-8 p.m., 2nd Street and Livingston Drive, Long Beach. Free. (310) 537-4240.

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Also in Long Beach, the Rancho Los Cerritos Christmas Open House on Sunday offers a peek at holidays past. Spend the afternoon at the historic rancho surrounded by Christmas crafts, music and a visit from Santa Claus. The following weekend, Dec. 8-9, the rancho hosts its annual candlelight tours ($6).

* Christmas Open House, Rancho Los Cerritos, 4600 Virginia Road, Long Beach. Sunday, 1-4 p.m. Free. (562) 570-1755.

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The 17th annual Granada Hills Holiday Parade is the largest holiday parade in the San Fernando Valley, with more than 150 units. On Sunday, high school bands from around the Valley will march west from Petit Park along Chatsworth Street to the high school in this youth-oriented parade, along with celebrity guests, including the cast of Disney's "The Jersey."

* Granada Hills Holiday Parade, Petit Park, Petit Avenue at Chatsworth Street. Sunday, 1:30 p.m. Free. (818) 368-3235.

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Over the foothills in the San Gabriel Valley, the Lake Avenue and Nestle choirs headline the Holiday at South Lake Avenue, on Friday in Pasadena. Free double-decker bus rides will tour the district, and many businesses will participate in the open house. Santa will arrive by fire engine about 6:30 p.m. Kids can visit St. Nick at the Gingerbread House at South Lake Avenue and Del Mar Boulevard from 6:30-9 p.m.

* Holiday at South Lake Avenue, South Lake Avenue, Pasadena. Friday, 6-9 p.m. Free. (626) 792-1259.

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Nearby in Alhambra, Christmas on Main Street on Friday features hay rides ($1), a high school choir, carolers and a tree-lighting ceremony (at 6 p.m., at the corner of Main Street and Garfield). Santa will hold court, and refreshments will be served during the open house.

* Christmas on Main Street, downtown Alhambra. Friday, 6-9 p.m. Free. (626) 282-5767.

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Uptown Whittier celebrates its Holiday Sonata on Friday evening, with a procession of carolers, a barbershop quartet and the lighting of the canopy of lights over the intersection of Greenleaf and Philadelphia avenues. * Holiday Sonata, Whittier. Friday, 5-10 p.m. Free. (562) 696-2662.

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Six Flags Magic Mountain is offering free admission during the annual Toys for the Holidays drive. Anyone bringing a new, unwrapped toy worth $10 or more on Saturday or Sunday or Dec. 8-9 gets into the park free.

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* Toys for the Holidays, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia. Saturday-Sunday and Dec. 8-9. Admission $10 toy. (661) 255-4817.

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