A hill called Christmas

What’s in a name: “Hello Red Phone! While at a wedding the other day, my husband and I and another couple were sitting at the table and my husband, being born and raised in Gilroy, they all wanted to know how Christmas Hill Park got its name. My husband looked at them and said, ‘I’ve been here my whole life and I don’t even know how it got its name.’ So if you could find that out for us and publish it, we’d really appreciate it. We’re wondering too. Thank you.”

Caller, you sent the Red Phone on quite a hunt that finally led to the Gilroy Museum.

Tom Howard, with the museum, was able to find an old article titled, A Hill called Christmas, which offers the following explanation:

“The generally accepted explanation for the name Christmas Hill stems from references to the Toyon trees that used to grow on the slopes. Thomas (Ben) said that in the olden days, everyone decorated their home with red Toyon berries and ferns. …(Eventually) the Toyon were gone and most of the Christmas reds came from poison oak bushes on the slopes,” the article reads.

Howard added his two cents as well.

“I’ve also heard that at Christmas time people would go up on the hill and look out over the city and maybe caroled and such like that,” he said. “But I believe it was the Toyon berry that gave it its name.”

Toyon trees, also known as the Christmas berry and California holly, have green leaves and red berries and become ripe in late November or early December. According to toyonhillpress.com, the tree is native to most of California and, good caller, along with Christmas Hill, also gave Hollywood Hills its name because Toyon trees grow abundantly on the dry hills behind Hollywood.

Animals on the loose: “My comments are about people who let their dogs run loose at city parks. They really frighten me because one of these days they’re going to take our privileges away, walking dogs on leash, like we do. The event was a bunch of Labrador owners at Christmas Hill Park, one of which had two dogs that were totally wild and totally out of control. That seems to be it. Thank you.”

Thanks for the call. The Red Phone checked with officials at Christmas Hill Park and was told that dogs are allowed there, but not off-leash – regardless if the dog is well-behaved or wild and out of control. Maybe some will take note and follow the rules. If not, perhaps some dog owners should be leashed as well.

More on dogs: “I’m just calling because, well I know this isn’t about Gilroy and I’m not sure it will be published, but I want to make a comment about pit bulls and all the hoopla going on. But I do see a lot of them around town, so maybe it is about Gilroy too. Some want to ban the dogs and those who like the breed say no, because the breed isn’t full of rage. They say it’s the owner and the way the animal is raised. Well has anyone else noticed that whenever someone is mauled by a put bull, the owner makes some kind of comment about how much they loved the animal and took care of it and it never was aggressive before? Hello! If these people are claiming the animal was well taken care of, loved and it’s never been aggressive, what does that say about the breed itself? There is definitely something in the pit bull that makes it prone to aggression and I think something needs to be done to curb the breeding. Thank you.”

Interesting comment, caller. Something to think about. Thanks for the call.

have your say! What do you think about owners allowing their dogs off leash at local parks? Does it make you nervous? How do you feel about pit bulls and laws to curb breeding?? Just let the Red Phone know. But remember to leave a name and number. The Red Phone won’t publish this information – it will only be used if verification is necessary. Contact the Red Phone at 842-9070 or e-mail [email protected]

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