Downtown Briefs: December 2017

Posted: December 1st, 2017 | Downtown Briefs, News, Opinion & News | No Comments


Each year, Friends of Balboa Park, in collaboration with the San Diego Park & Recreation Department, seek donations of poinsettia plants and other financial support for the annual holiday poinsettia display inside the Botanical Building in Balboa Park.

In addition to the donations, people can also dedicate their plants to a loved one or community member.

Today, Dec. 1, is the deadline to honor a loved one with a poinsettia plant. Those who tender a tax-deductible $25 donation will receive the following: their honoree will receive a poinsettia card via email, informing them of the honor; each will receive an invitation to the celebration ceremony; both donor and honoree will be named during the ceremony’s reading of the “poinsettia honor roll” and remain listed there inside the Botanical Building throughout the duration of the exhibit; and donor and honoree will be listed on the Friends of Balboa Park website.

While the poinsettias will first be put on display starting Dec. 1, the first of two evenings consisting of Balboa Park’s heralded December Nights, but the actual poinsettia celebration will take place Friday, Dec. 7, from 3–5 p.m. inside the Botanical Building, located at 1549 El Prado in Balboa Park.

“Balboa Park is one of San Diego’s top destinations during the holiday months and the poinsettia display is a special and time-honored San Diego tradition that we are happy to facilitate for the community to help celebrate the season,” said John Bolthouse, Friends of Balboa Park executive director.

Anyone who has missed the opportunity to donate towards the display itself may do so until the end of the month or donate at the Friends of Balboa Park booth during December Nights.

The poinsettias will remain on display inside the Botanical Building through the first week of January. For more information, visit


This Friday, Dec. 1, from 3–11 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 2, from noon–11 pm., December Nights will once again attract literally hundreds of thousands of holiday revelers to Balboa Park for its two-days of holiday-themed festivities. Called the largest free event in the region, attendees can expect lots of food from around the globe; dancers and singers, both young and old; light displays, plenty of holiday-themed sights and sounds; original gifts; and a variety of exhibitors.

Now in its 40th year, the event was known as Christmas on the Prado until 2002, and has continued to expand each year with more to do, hear and see.

Things to expect this year:

Spotlight San Diego. This year on Park Boulevard at President’s Way, San Diego’s active lifestyle will be on display, holiday style. Be prepared for fitness challenges and health-related sponsor activities; food trucks; skills competitions and active games; a bicycle parking area (unsupervised); and a performance stage.

Starlight Winter Marketplace. Sip and shop under the stars east of the Hall of Champions on the Federal Lawn with holiday-themed retail, food and an expanded stage.

Expanded light displays. Don’t miss the sparkling sights at the California Tower, El Prado, the Botanical Building, the Plaza de Panama canopy, and the spellbinding Moreton Bay Fig Tree.

Stages everywhere. Enjoy some of San Diego’s best community dancers, musicians, and performers bring you holiday cheer on more than 15 stages. It will be nearly non-stop entertainment throughout the park, including the San Diego Junior Theatre, Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Story Tree, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, and many more.

Flavors for all. The International cottages will present their Christmas Festival with plenty of holiday memories and unforgettable foods from vendors around the world. Also, food and beverages from Prado Pub on the Square and Panama 66.

Museum magic. All the museums will also get into the holiday spirit, offering free admission from 5–9 p.m. each night, including the Timken Museum’s exquisite, annual Christmas tree display of the Schlappi Collection of Christmas ornaments, and the interactive, kid-friendly exhibits at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

Stress-free gifting. Get your shopping done with retailers galore, from the many museum stores, the Spanish Village Art Center, and the newly expanded Artisan Marketplace, which features local handcrafted goods.

For more information, visit


The annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, which consists of 80 holiday-lit boats that parade through the waters of San Diego Bay over two Sundays every December, has been nominated for USA Today’s 10Best list for “best holiday parade.”

Those wishing to vote must do so by Dec. 4 at San Diego Parade of Lights is included along with just 19 other nominees vying for the title. The winners of USA Today’s 10Best will be announced Dec. 8.

The parade’s 46th season will take place on two consecutive Sundays, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17, starting at 5:30 p.m. and last for approximately two hours. Participating boats will take on the theme “Arrgh! A Pirate’s Christmas.”

Sponsored by the Port of San Diego’s Tidelands Activation Program, the parade starts south of Shelter Island, proceeding along Harbor Island, Harbor Drive and Embarcadero North, to Seaport Village and Embarcadero South, and to the Pier at Cesar Chavez Park before turning toward west toward across the bay to Coronado and ending at the Ferry Landing.

“We are absolutely certain that the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is the most unique and enjoyable holiday parade in America,” said Larry Baumann, chairman of Parade of Lights. “With the lights on the boats reflected on beautiful San Diego Bay and the Downtown skyline as a backdrop, there isn’t a more stunning sight during the holidays.”

For more information, visit


A player with the San Diego Gulls hockey team has announced a scholarship for young students that he is launching with his wife. Jordan Samuels-Thomas, a left wing with the local American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, made the announcement Nov. 24 at Valley View Casino (formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena) during a game with the Bakersfield Condors.

Called the Samuels-Thomas Scholars Academic Excellence Program, it will honor students on a monthly basis for academic performance, classroom participation and leadership skills. The program’s goal is to make a positive impact with youth in local elementary schools and motivate students in the classroom to accomplish their educational goals. The program will also recognize special education students at the middle school level.

Each student recognized will receive a backpack filled with school supplies, tickets for the honoree and his/her family to a Gulls game, and a meet-and-greet with Samuels-Thomas and other players after the game.

“My wife and I are thrilled to create the Samuels-Thomas Scholars program,” Samuels-Thomas said in a press release. “Education has and always will be important to our family. San Diego’s vibrant and diverse community has blessed us with the opportunity to work with kids from all walks of life and reward them for their academic efforts and achievements. Our efforts are focused to encourage kids to keep working hard no matter what adversity they face.”

For more information about the Gulls visit

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