Santa’s schedule 1 Wal-Mart: 10 - 11 a.m. /7900
music in the park san jose

GILROY
– Santa Claus is coming to town this weekend with a stocking
full of holiday festivities for Garlic City.
GILROY – Santa Claus is coming to town this weekend with a stocking full of holiday festivities for Garlic City.

Santa will appear at various shopping centers, downtown Gilroy for the annual parade, the Gilroy Museum, St. Mary Parish gym and Bonfante Gardens.

For his traditional Christmas visit, the jolly elf will start meeting with local residents Saturday morning. He’ll be making visits at the Wal-Mart Store at 7900 Arroyo Circle from 10 to 11 a.m., Arteaga’s Supermarket at South Valley Plaza on Chestnut and 10th streets from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the Safeway Supermarket on First Street from 1 to 2 p.m., and Mama Mia’s Ristorante at the Hecker Pass Plaza on First Street from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m.

Santa’s visit is sponsored by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce to get local residents into the seasonal spirit and promote holiday gift-buying in town, said Marsha Becht, director of the chamber’s membership program.

“We do a citywide Christmas program to promote community spirit and to encourage people to shop locally in Gilroy,” she said.

Christmas goodies such as candy, cookies, Dutchman’s pizza and coupons for free Sweet Retreat ice-cream cones will be handed out by various merchants at the shopping centers. Santa Claus will be accompanied by “Lou the Elf,” she said.

And who will be playing Santa?

“Santa is Santa,” Becht said. “We’ve got the real Santa.”

After visiting the various shopping centers, Santa will make his appearance in Gilroy’s downtown for the annual Christmas parade. The fun will start at 4 p.m. with holiday refreshments and music provided by the Monterey Street Music Academy, the Gilroy Elementary Schools Choir, the Gilroy High School Chamber Choir and the Garlic City Harmony Quartet.

At 5:30 p.m., there will be a small parade with Santa as the star dignitary riding in an antique sleigh pulled by “celebrity reindeer” (also known as Mayor Tom Springer and Gilroy’s council members), Becht said.

“It’s on rollers,” she said. “It’s a very beautiful sleigh. We’re hoping the parade will be a big success, and we’ll have more entries next year.”

The highlight of the parade will be a tree-lighting ceremony, with Supervisor Don Gage as master of ceremonies, at the corner of Monterey and Fifth streets, she said.

If families haven’t visited with Santa during the day, they can do so at 5:45 p.m. at Santa Land at the Chamber of Commerce office, she said.

A free photo with Santa will be available at the Chamber of Commerce location. Free coloring books, balloon sculptures and candy will be given out to kids at all of Santa’s stops, she said.

Santa Claus also will make his appearance at St. Mary School gym for the annual “Country Christmas Boutique” sponsored by the school’s Mothers’ Guild. About 40 vendors will sell arts, crafts and special Christmas gifts at the two-day event, said Mollie Botill, the school secretary. The event is from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Santa Claus will visit with shoppers at the Kris Kringle Cafe, which will sell food, including hot chocolate and homemade Christmas cookies.

The Gilroy Historical Museum also will have an appearance Saturday by “Father Christmas,” the European version of Santa Claus. The museum is holding a Victorian Christmas celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. where families can string cranberries and popcorn and decorate gingerbread cookies as well as take tours of historical buildings in Gilroy.

“Kids can talk to Father Christmas, and we can take a picture of them together,” Museum Coordinator Lucy Solorzano said.

The event costs $10 for Gilroy residents and $12 for non-residents, she said.

The weekend ends with a “gift to the community” from Bonfante Gardens with a special holiday celebration Sunday to show appreciation for the support and devotion that the South Valley residents have shown to the theme park, said Joel Goldsmith, chief executive officer and president of Goldsmith Seeds and a member of the Bonfante Board of Directors.

The park will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free. There will be a $2 fee for parking.

“We had planned originally to have a light show,” Goldsmith said. “With the financial struggle we’ve been going through, we just didn’t have the resources to pull that off.”

Volunteers have spent hours decorating the park with lights and other adornments, and various groups will provide entertainment and food for visitors, said Patti Hale, a member of the Bonfante board of directors.

“It looks beautiful,” she said. “There’s so many people putting their hearts into it, it’ll look so beautiful.”

All of the theme park’s rides have been shut down for the season, except the carousel, which will be running. Attractions will include homemade Christmas ornaments and gifts available at three stores, free horse-drawn cart rides, pony rides and a children’s parade.

Goldsmith said he welcomes every child and parent to participate in the parade.

“They can decorate their bikes or wagons and wear holiday costumes,” he said. “It should be fun.”

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