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Scotts Valley
March 5, 2024

Annual Light Up the Night brings holiday spirit to Scotts Valley

Event collects items for Valley Churches Christmas distribution

As afternoon turned to night in a glorious blaze of purple Saturday, families made their way past a fake snow machine into the Scotts Valley Community Center for the annual Light Up the Night festivities.

Inside were snickerdoodles and cider, young ballerinas, powerful singers, talented musicians and martial artists, ready to put on a heartwarming show for their parents, friends and other loved ones.

Phil Hoey, 43, arrived with his wife and two children; they’ve been living in town for three years now. There were more people in attendance than he even thought there would be, he noted.

“I thought it’s well put together,” Hoey said. “This is our first time here.”

He said his kids were looking forward to seeing Santa and the taekwondo school’s exhibition.

Lauren Hicks, 46, a Scotts Valley resident, said it was heartwarming to see the children of the community having so much fun.

Los Gatos High School student Gwen Hayes makes a big impression, once again, during this year’s Light Up the Night program Saturday at the Scotts Valley Community Center. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Victor Alejandro, the president of the Exchange Club of Scotts Valley, which organized the Dec. 2 event, said he’d been on-site since 9am getting things ready for the families.

“You see all the lights here and all the decorations?” he asked. “We worked together with the Scouts, high school students…,” he said, launching into a lengthy list of community groups that helped, including Vineyard Church.

“Hey everybody!” shouted Councilmember Donna Lind. “Come this way.”

All of the sudden, fire trucks barreled past the theater and library building.

“Ho, ho, ho,” said Santa Claus, as he and Mrs. Claus exited the Scotts Valley Fire Protection District vehicle.

The children gingerly approached.

The magical pair held a countdown and illuminated the lights on an outdoor tree, then headed inside for a seemingly endless series of photoshoots.

Sebastien Workman, a 5-year-old Brook Knoll student, has been looking forward to meeting Santa Claus for a long time. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

When Sebastien Workman, 5, finally made it to the front of the line—which stretched across the lobby—he was over-the-moon.

“He loves it,” his mother, Crystal Gates, said, explaining how much it meant to her son to get to meet Santa, in-the-flesh. “He’s talked about it all year.”

Were you excited? she asks him. A vigorous smile.

Lindsey Rice, of Scotts Valley, was clearly touched by her 9-year-old daughter Mackenzie’s dance performance.

“She did great,” she said, noting the “picture pose” at the end was quite the highlight.

Bobbie Ward of Performance Vocals told the Press Banner she was incredibly proud of how well her students did.

After watching many of her students take the stage with rousing performances, Bobbie Ward of Performance Vocals gets into the holiday spirit with an animated performance herself. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Raaga Chandiramani, 11, got to sing three songs.

“It’s a very fun experience,” she said. “There are a lot of people interacting.”

Mayor Jack Dilles was volunteering at the event, ensuring people had the refreshments they needed.

“I love seeing the kids, how talented they are,” he said. “Everyone’s having fun.”

Susan Negro, 60, was busy keeping the line-up for photos with Santa in order.

Standing next to a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, Valley Churches United Executive Director Lynn Robinson said she was thrilled to see how many food and toy items community members donated for families in need.

“People were just so generous,” she said, of the collection drive organized by the Scotts Valley Police Officers Association. “It just makes us so happy.”

Drew Penner
Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].

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