A Very Merry WeekendDec 06, 2023 12:28PM ● By Chrissy Rose, photos by Kayla Thayer/North Highlands Recreation and Park District
Guests take a picture with the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who at the 2022 North Highlands Park and Recreation District's Holiday Extravaganza and Tree Lighting.
RIO LINDA, CA (MPG) - If you’re looking to get in the holiday spirit, there’s no better time than now. There will be plenty of holiday events for everyone of all ages to enjoy this coming weekend.
Kick off the festivities on the night of Friday, December 8th. at the Holiday Extravaganza and Tree Lighting hosted by the North Highlands Recreation and Park District. Taking place at the Kay F. Dahill Community Center, the event will start at 6 p.m., with the tree lighting happening right at 7 p.m. There will be cookie decorating, holiday music, a gingerbread house competition, and a no-cost hot cocoa and coffee bar courtesy of New Brew Cafe. The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who will also be making an appearance, and a local artist will be providing free Grinchy caricatures on a first-come, first-served basis. All of this will take place against a backdrop of live Christmas music provided by Thomas Seaton on his saxophone.
According to Kayla Thayer, Recreation Supervisor for North Highlands Park and Recreation District, “The most magical part of this event is at 7 p.m., when the community gathers around the tree and counts down to turn on the lights. Right as the tree lights up, snow begins to fall and you can hear all the cheers from the kids that are gathered around.”
Friday night serves as an appetizer to the main course of events taking place Saturday, December 9th. Saturday morning those who signed up in time can join Santa for breakfast from 9-11 a.m., again at the Kay F. Dahill Community Center at 6040 Watt Ave. For $8.00, breakfast will include pancakes and other treats, fresh coffee, juice, and pictures with Santa. Children will have the opportunity to write and send their letter to Santa, and take part in a holiday craft. New for this year, children can also shop the Highlands Holiday Market, where gifts for their friends and family can be purchased for under a dollar. Guests are welcome to arrive in their pajamas.
After the warm breakfast with Santa, there is the 3rd Annual Christmas Bazaar taking place at Rio Linda High School. Organizers LeeAnn Williams of Renewal Soaps, and her sister Tonia Silva of Silva Bookkeeper & Tax Preparer, started the event after having success at smaller craft fairs at Silva’s business.
“She was the one with the vision to do events and she had faith in me to coordinate the events,” Williams says of her sister.
The sisters are thrilled with how the event has grown from 17 vendors in 2021 to more than 80 for this year. With so many vendors in attendance, guests can get all of their holiday shopping done in one place. Shoppers can expect to find handcrafted jewelry and accessories, soaps, artwork, wreaths, woodwork, dog treats, ornaments, house décor, personalized totes, and more. The event is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and will not only include goods from vendors (and kid entrepreneurs) but also a 50/50 raffle, a $500 cash-prize raffle, and free crafts for the kiddos. For those that have already paid a visit to Santa, then it’s only fair to grab a free picture with the Grinch at this event, who will be posing with families for free. For those that work up an appetite while shopping, there will be plenty of vendors serving up sweet treats, and Phat Jerry’s Phillies will be serving up tasty cheesesteaks.
Saturday night is the infamous 8th Annual Rio Linda Elverta Christmas Light Parade, put on by the dedicated volunteers at RLE Country Faire. The parade has become a much-loved local tradition featuring trucks, trailers, horses, and the one and only Santa Claus. It will once again kick off with the lighting of the Christmas tree at Troy Graham Park. The parade will then follow its typical route beginning at W 2nd Street and then traveling along M Street to Curved Bridge Road. This year, visitors can grab a warm bite to eat at any of the food trucks and stop by Meg’s Creamery for a free cup of hot chocolate! The light parade starts at 6 p.m. sharp.