Christmas in Fallbrook starts with the annual Fallbrook Christmas parade, held on the first Saturday in December beginning at 5 p.m. In 1998 the 17th annual parade was held on 5 December, with 107 entries listed in the program which was handed out just before the parade. (See calendar of yearly events for dates in other years as they become available if I forget to update this page.)
In 1999 Paul Ecke Jr., retired Chairman of Paul Ecke Poinsettia Ranch, will be Grand Marshal.
The Christmas parade is a real "small town", "home town" event, with 100 - 200 entries including antique cars, incredibly-decorated pickup trucks, kids riding bicycles decorated with streamers and Christmas lights, kids pulling wagons with a Christmas tree on it, dancers, two Humvees from Camp Pendleton, and, of course, bringing up the rear, Santa Claus. Since the parade is at night, the vehicles such as fire trucks, trash trucks, avocado packing trucks, etc. decorated with Christmas lights are truly a sight to see. Nine school bands appeared at the 1998 parade, including one from Calexico.
The Fallbrook Fertilizer Float, which features over 3,000 lights, wrapped presents, snowmen and a Christmas tree, is a regular every year and is one of the best floats.
Anyone can enter and march in the parade, and many of the floats throw out candy or other treats. If you live in Fallbrook, you're missing something special if you don't brave the traffic and cold to see this.
Even though Fallbrook is only a 12 stoplight town, traffic is pretty bad, so be sure to get there early. It has only rained on the parade once, in 1997. The parade is held rain or shine, although rain cuts down on the entries.
A few words of advice: it is COLD sitting or standing in one place for nearly two hours at a temperature of 50° F. in darkness. Dress in your absolute warmest clothing and your heaviest coat. It is a good idea to wear thermal underwear if you are as cold sensitive as my wife and I. Bring a folding chair, or else you will get very weary of standing in one spot for two hours or your bottom will get very chilled if you sit on the curb.
The parade starts at Ammunition and Main Street, but the bands are not allowed to play until they pass McDonalds so that the judges hear only one band at a time and can judge them properly. Hence if you want to hear the bands play, make sure you are north of McDonalds.
Fallbrook used to have numerous Christmas tree lots that allow you to bring home a tree that is as fresh as they come, but they've all gone away one by one except for, as of 2008, Mission Pines on S. Mission.
Since Fallbrook is a rural area, it can be hard to find displays of many lights in a small area amidst our 81,111 acres. Fortunately, the residents of Buena Flores, off Winterhaven immediately south of the High School, put on a fabulous display on their block that equals the best displays in many other much larger cities. Also tour Buena Rosa Lane and connecting streets, one block toward Mission Rd, since many residents there put on great displays as well.
The top individual display award clearly goes to Mack Shreiber, who has spent thousands of dollars in the last decade to produce a fabulous 25,000 light display that is synchronized to music. He lives on the south side of Reche Road just west of Green Canyon Road, and invites spectators to enter the west side of his circular driveway to see the display and hear the music on 107.7 FM. The ~15 minute show begins at the top of each hour. Pull forward in his driveway, so that others can get in, turn off your car lights, and enjoy the show! The show is free, but there is a barrel if you would like to bring a donation of food or cash for the Fallbrook Food Pantry. See Family's Christmas lights gaining size, popularity. Note that the display is only on during the show; otherwise his electricity bill would be sky high!
Nancy Gilby wrote, in December 2008, of two other particular houses worth mentioning as they were so elaborate:
Off Buena Flores, off Winterhaven, off Buena Rose, at the cross streets of La Buena Vida and Buenos Tempos (On Buenos Tempos) is an amazing display, worth the drive.
At the cross street of E. Fallbrook and on Old Stage Coach is another very nice display.
The homes in River Glen, southeast of SR-76 and I-15, have a number of homes with good displays in a small area.
The De Luz Heights Yacht Club has an annual New Year's Eve Parade of Lights on Ross Lake in De Luz, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event features ~12 entries that float across the lake, and is free and open to the public. Prizes are handed out at 8 p.m. The private lake is 10 miles northwest of downtown Fallbrook. Take De Luz Road to Daily Road, which accesses Ross Lake.
River Village has always advertised that they have the "tallest Christmas tree in North County", and in 1997 switched from a cut Christmas tree to a live Christmas tree. Unfortunately, they had a problem with their watering system that wasn't apparent until the tree died in 1998 from drowned roots. A new 35' tree from Ramona was transplanted in December 1998.
I don't know if the claim of the tallest Christmas tree still holds, since the new Carlsbad Company Stores is now advertising the same thing. Perhaps the categories for these claims are different, since the Carlsbad tree is a cut tree and River Village's tree is a live one.
If you know of other good displays, email me.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't think of others less fortunate. Among Fallbrook's many charities, three are especially prominent at Christmas:
Grants in 1998 went to medical care for needy children, food for homeless shelters, assistance for runaways, a gang prevention program, a Christmas party for poor families, gifts for AIDS patients, day care for Alzheimer's patients, and dozens of other programs.
Source: NCT 1/26/99, B3.
Although not a local agency, E-Y-E Counseling and Crisis Services also matches individuals, companies and organizations to needy families, to provide them with a holiday dinner, gifts and necessities. Other volunteer efforts include organizing a food or toy drive, donating food, clothes or gift certificates, or picking up, delivering and sorting donated items. In 1998, 510 families throughout San Diego County were helped. Contact Linda Courton at 747-6293, ext. 105. (VN 11/11/99, A2)
The Rancho Bernardo Inn (about 40 minutes away) puts 28 person-weeks into their Christmas decorations, beginning the day after Thanksgiving and continuing for five days. They use:
The RB Inn is at 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive in Rancho Bernardo, just south of Escondido. 619-675-8550.
Source: NCT 12/2/98, E2.
The 30,000 lights strung on the Hotel del Coronado (about 60 minutes away) take six people two months to put up. Source: LAT 12/17/98, A3.
If you know of other fantastic displays, email me.
C.A.S.T. Productions presents Scrooge, featuring 50 local performers including children from C.A.S.T.'s "Christmas Magic" workshop. Playtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday from December 10 to 20, 1998, at the Mission Theatre, 231 N. Main Street. Tickets are $10 per adult and $8 per child. The 1998 show is the 5th annual production.
Source: VN 12/3/98, A16.
The "Magic of Christmas" is a series of events by the Bonsall Woman's Club that raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of North County (Fallbrook, Bonsall and Pala), student scholarships and the Art & Cultural Center. Over $16,000 was raised in 1998. The events occur at the Fallbrook Art & Cultural Center. Two activities begin the day after Thanksgiving:
Victoria Teas are held a week later, set in a vintage tearoom with breathtaking décor, hundreds of sparkling lights, with each table set differently. Guests are encouraged to wear vintage attire, original Victorian clothing is displayed, and there is a discussion of some aspect of Victorian life.
Sources: NCT 12/5/98, B3; NCT 11/9/99, B2; VN 11/18/99, 1; VN 12/9/99, 20.
The second annual Rainbow Community Tree Lighting was held in December, 1999, with about 75 people attending the event at the "Oaks" Gas Station. Mr. And Mrs. Santa Claus arrived on a Rainbow Fire truck, posed with children and adults, and distributed candy. VN 12/23/99, 3.
Copyright © 1998-2008 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 26 December 2008.