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Gilroy Garlic Festival Association announces $65K in charity payouts

The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association announced that its 2023 payouts to local charities totaled $65,000.

That amount exceeds last year’s donations by $25,000, according to the association. 

GGFA President Cindy Fellows and her team will host an awards ceremony on Dec. 5 at Gilroy Presbyterian Church to hand out the checks.

The following is a list of 2023 benefactors:


• Gilroy Unified School District

• St. Joseph’s Food Pantry

• Veterans Memorial Hall


• Ascencion Solorsano Middle School Parent Club

• Boy Scouts of America Troop #730

• Christopher High School Boy’s Soccer

• Dreampower Horsemanship

• Gavilan College Men’s Soccer

• Gilroy Arts Alliance

• Gilroy High School Future Farmers of America

• Gilroy Historical Society

• Gilroy High School Parents Club, Inc.

• Gilroy Leadership & Education Foundation—Leadership Gilroy

• Gilroy Prep School Percussion Ensemble

• Gilroy Sister Cities Association

• Live Oak Adult Day Care Services

• PitStop Outreach

• Rancho Maze Band Boosters Association

• Rebekah Children’s Services, Kneaded Culinary Academy

• Unravel

Volunteer Hour Payouts

• All Animals Rescue Foundation

• Boy Scouts of America Troop #730

• Christopher High School Baseball

• Christopher High School Boy’s Basketball

• Christopher High School Yearbook

• Gilroy Exchange Club

• Gilroy Gators Swim Team

• Gilroy High School Baseball

• Gilroy High School Boy’s Basketball

• Gilroy Presbyterian Church

• Knights of Columbus

• Operation Freedom Paws

• South Valley Community Church

• Sportsman Chef

• Victory Outreach

For information, visit

Gilroy Gardens transforms into the North Pole

The new “North Pole Nights” celebration at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park runs through Jan. 7.

Gilroy Gardens will be transformed into the wintry wonderland of the North Pole with activities, festive food and drinks and more throughout the park.

A live musical show, “The Magic of Santa,” plays multiple times each night at the Lakeside Amphitheater.

Santa’s band of elves welcome guests to North Pole Village and can be spotted throughout the park’s gardens and play areas. Santa will be greeting children and taking photos in his workshop, which will also feature hands-on holiday crafts and activities—plus a chance to see the reindeer barn and Santa’s sleigh. For an additional fee, parents can arrange to have a “Wish for Santa Experience” that includes the presentation of a pre-wrapped gift they provide in advance. 

Kids can also write letters to Santa from the North Pole Post Office.

Other interactive experiences include the Mrs. Claus Cookie Jam and “North Pole Tonight,” a late-night talk show on the Red and White Stage. Guests can also go ice skating, ride along on Rudy’s Road Trip and climb aboard Tinsel’s Groove Train. Select other rides will also be operational, including the Illions Supreme Carousel and the Panoramic Wheel.

Other light displays and decorations will be abound throughout the park, including the 100-foot-long North Pole Light Tunnel, with synchronized holiday music and lights, and Tinsel’s Tree Trail, a giant tropical greenhouse filled with dozens of decorated Christmas trees.

At the center of the celebration is Snowflake Square, a gathering place where guests can enjoy a buffet-style holiday feast that includes hand-carved roast turkey and honey-baked ham, a mashed potato bar with toppings, as well as stuffing, gravy and more. There are also hot dogs for the kids, unlimited soft drinks and hot chocolate, plus pumpkin pie for dessert.

More festive food and drinks can be found around the park, including decorate-your-own holiday cookies, hot cocoa bombs, mulled apple cider, peppermint soft-serve, and specialty mocktails and cocktails such as Candy Cane Martinis and White Christmas Margaritas.

North Pole Nights at Gilroy Gardens is open through Jan. 7. It is open daily from 1-9pm from Dec. 16-30. The park will also host a New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31, starting at 4pm and ending with a fireworks show at midnight.

The park will be open Jan. 5-7 from 11am to 5pm before it closes for the season.

For information and tickets, visit

Mount Madonna School prepares for ‘Elf The Musical Jr.’

Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. 

With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to locate his birth father in New York City.

Based on the holiday film, “Elf The Musical Jr.”—as embodied onstage by Mount Madonna School’s (MMS) middle school cast—follows Buddy the elf in his quest to find his true identity.

Performances are Dec. 9 and 10 at 2pm at Mount Madonna School’s Hawks’ Nest Theater, 491 Summit Road in Watsonville. 

“‘Elf Jr.’ is a sleigh ride through the core values of friendship, openness and self-discovery—all served up with a generous helping of holiday cheer,” Director Chelsea Otterness said. “It’s a story that will entertain, and also teach lessons our young cast will carry with them for life.”

“The message of this story is that it is important to believe in things even if you think they are childish and silly,” said eighth-grader Jacqui Overson, who plays the role of Jovi, Buddy’s love interest. “You don’t need to be serious and sulky all the time.”

Eighth-grader Deja Orozco is cast in the role of Santa Claus.

“Santa wants people to be on the good list and doesn’t enjoy giving people coal,” Orozco said. “Santa cares for people a lot, and I really do care about my loved ones too. Santa Claus likes to teach the elves, and I like to do this too; I teach my niece how to be caring and how to interact with people who aren’t being nice to her.”

Originally produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures in association with Unique Features, “Elf The Musical Jr.” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for those 18 and under. For tickets, visit

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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