‘O LITTLE TOWN OF BELLFLOWER…’ AND OTHER HOLIDAY FAVORITESBy Dave Wielenga
Christmas is never commercialized in Bellflower—it’s been decades since there were enough businesses on Bellflower Blvd. for that—but this year it looked as though the holiday wouldn’t be commemorated at all. Late last summer city officials realized there was not enough money to hang downtown with December decorations, or even to light is huge holiday tree.
But then … the miracle kicked in, and the Tree Lighting Ceremony was saved—it’s December 2, corner of Bellflower Blvd. and Belmont. You’re going to have to skip down our chronological guide to holiday-season events to find out what that holiday miracle was … athough we’re , but we’re probably not giving anything away by revealing that it was an example of selflessness and generosity, with a takeaway lesson that is applicable all year round. That’s the essence of every miracle at this time of year. And thank goodness.
Take a look at the stuff we basically stumbled upon, usually while looking for something else we thought we needed more—and check back from time to time to see what else we’ve found. Or here’s a brainstorm—how about you showing a little initiative and sharing with us something to do during the holidays?
ONE-MAN “A CHRISTMAS CAROL”
The Found Theatre
Fred Blanco, whose name almost became synonymous with Cesar Chavez last year during an award-winning portrayal of the civil rights leader, will be answering to just about any name this year after playing every character in Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. How’s the same guy going to be characters as diverse as Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and Ebeneezer Scrooge. Acting!
THE DEETS: NOVEMBER 18-27 (FRI-SAT, 8 PM; SUN, 2 PM) • TICKETS $10 • 562.433.3363 THEFOUNDTHEATRE.COM • 599 LONG BEACH BLVD • LONG BEACH • 90802
NOVEMBER 18-JANUARY 1
HUMBUG or WHAT THE DICKENS?
IT’S A BLUNDERFUL LIFE or BYE GEORGE
All American Melodrama Theater and Music Hall
The management of the All American Melodrama Theater and Music Hall comes right out and says that the current holiday revue—actually, everything that takes the stage at this salt water taffy-adjacent showplace in Shoreline Village—is “fun for the whole family.” In other words, Dad, put down the remote and get in the car! The specialty at All American Melodrama Theater and Music Hall (henceforth, AAMTMH) is the melodrama-style movie spoof and at this year’s holiday program, the specialty sounds especially special: two classic satires, HUMBUG or What the Dickens? and IT’S A BLUNDERFUL LIFE or Bye George! followed by Bing Martin’s latest holiday special olio: Bing in the Holidays! Most nights the program will be done in “three hilarious, heartwarming acts” but if you’re lucky you may catch it in “three heartwarming, hilarious acts.” Oh, and Dad? They serve beer.
THE DEETS: NOVEMBER 18-JANUARY 1 (FRI-SAT, 7:30PM; SAT, 4:30PM; SUN, 4 PM) • TICKETS (ADULTS, $20; SENIORS / STUDENTS / MILITARY, $18, CHILDREN, 14) • 562.495.5900 ALLAMERICANMELODRAMA.COM • 429 SHORELINE VILLAGE DRIVE • LONG BEACH 90802
Festival of Lights
DOWNTOWN LONG BEACH
The holiday decorations put up by nearly 30 Downtown Long Beach businesses aren’t only reflective of the spirit of the season—they also embody the spirit of competition, as in: Whose decorations are best? Well, that’s for you to decide and them to find out. Downtown shoppers are encouraged to visit participating businesses and vote for their favorite holiday display … and by “encouraged,” the sponsoring Downtown Long Beach Associates mean that those who vote will be entered to win a $100 Downtown Prize Package.
THE DEETS: SHOP DOWNTOWN FROM NOW ‘TIL DEC. 24, VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITEHOLIDAYDISPLAY, PERHAPS WIN A $100 PRIZE PACKAGE.
11th CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY
City of Bellflower
For 10 years this earnest little winter tradition has been Bellflower’s holiday card to itself. As it enters its second decade, however, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is nothing less than a classic TV Christmas special waiting to happen. It’s set in Bellflower, a once-bustling Los Angeles suburb where all the luck—and lots of the businesses—ran out so fast that many of the storefronts in the architecturally intact, 1920s-era downtown have been empty for decades. Despite the tough times, however, the townspeople mustered up the gumption to start a new tradition. They built a small town square and named it Friendship Square, where they planted a towering Christmas tree, and at the outset of every December, they gathered in the square to sing songs, eat sweets, drink hot chocolate and coffee, and finally—turn on the colorful lights that covered their massive symbol of the year’s happiest season. But eventually, times got so tough that the town no longer had the money to throw the humble holiday party in Friendship Square or pay for the electricity that illuminated all those colorful lights. The little town of Bellflower faced a very dark December. But suddenly, two members of the City Council stepped forward and announced they would split the $5,500 cost. That’s right, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Koops and Councilman Ray Dunton will be paying out of their own pockets for the 2011 Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Friendship Square out of their own pockets. How’s that for a couple of real Santas? Well … when Koops and Dunton are viewed from certain angles … yeah … there is undeniably some physical resemblance to St. Nick.
THE DEETS: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2 • FRIENDSHIP SQUARE (BELLFLOWER BLVD. AT BELMONT STREET) • ENTERTAINMENT: MAYFAIR HIGH CHORAL ENSEMBLE • SPECIAL GUEST: SANTA CLAUS • EXCESS-KID-ENERGY-SAPPER: MOBILE RECREATION UNIT • ARTS, CRAFTS, ROLLER SKATING, SCOOTERS, REFRESHMENTS • 6:30PM TO 8:30 PM • FREE • INFORMATION: 562.804.1424, EXT 2267
Organizers of Saturday’s fundraiser for the dog park that was recently approved for the east side of Long Beach have decided to call their event The Holiday Bone-Anza—let’s hope, after considering at least some of the ways that term could be misused as innuendo … not that the name has aroused any hard feelings here. We understand that calling it Five Hours of Gourmet Food Trucks, a Silent Auction, Opportunity Drawings, a Children’s Craft Zone, Music and Shopping may say more, but people are likely to hear and remember less. Friends of El Dorado Park (FEDDP) can’t afford that. This is the outset of a mission to raise $100,000 to help fund construction and maintenance of the dog park—to be located south of Spring Street, adjacent toLong Beach’sAnimalCareCenter—and the first step is attracting attention. A name like The Holiday Bone-Anza will definitely get people to prick up their ears … you know, it being the holiday season, and all.
THE DEETS: HOLIDAY BONE-ANZA DOG PARK FUNDRAISER • GOODNEIGHBOR PARK • 2800 N STUDEBAKER RD • LONG BEACH • 90815 • ELDORADODOGPARKFRIENDS.ORG • 9AM TO 2PM • FREE
DECEMBER 3 & 4
Long Beach Symphony Orchestra
Holiday Celebration Concerts
No, dude, I don’t know if there is a dress code for these exquisite presentations of music that—I’m gonna declare, without even knowing you—will include note combinations that function like sonic access codes to some of the most resonant moments of your life. I can tell you the Terrace Theatre is being lavishly decorated for the event, and I’m betting Orchestra POPS! conductor Steven Reineke is not going to let himself be outdressed by the drapery. As for special guest vocalists Kristine Reese and Billy Tighe—does the special guest vocalists designation suggest anything about their standards? The Southern California Master Chorale always looks spit-shined, and the Southern California Children’s Chorus knows better than to go there. But dude, I couldn’t tell you whether you’re required to wear the suit-and-tie-with-hard shoes or if a jacket-with-slacks-and-loafers will do. I wouldn’t if I knew. It seems as though everybody ought to get their “merry gentleman” on at least once every holiday season. But that Long Beach Marathon “finisher” t-shirt probably has its magic, too. By the way, congratulations on that.
THE DEETS: DECEMBER 3-4 (SAT, 6:30PM; SUN, 2PM) • TERRACE THEATER • 300 E OCEAN BLVD • LONG BEACH • 90802 • TICKETS: $30, $40, $50 • INFORMATION: 562-436-3203, LBSO.org
DECEMBER 3 THRU 24
THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER
Long Beach Playhouse
Introduced in 1972 as a novel by Barbara Robinson, who 10 years later adapted it as a play, and later still permitted it to be made into a movie, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is the story of the six Herdman children, a pack of liars, cheaters and cigar-smoking delinquents who only go to church after hearing that cakes and cookies are served as snacks. But they are given roles in the Sunday school Christmas play, and when they tell the Christmas story in their way, it quickly becomes The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!
THE DEETS: DECEMBER 3 THRU 24 (THU-FRI-SAT, 8 PM; SUNDAY 2 PM) • SPECIAL EVENTS INCLUDE PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN SHOW ON DEC. 1, AND A 2-FOR-1 PREVIEW ON DECEMBER 2 FOR $12 • TICKETS $24 ADULTS, $21 SENIORS, $14 STUDENTS • 562.4941014 www.lbplayhouse.org • 5021 E ANAHEIM ST • LONG BEACH 90804
58th DAISY LANE PARADE
Applications to participate in one of Long Beach’s hometowniest traditions—the transformation of Daisy Avenue into Christmas Lane for a holiday parade—close today (Thursday, Nov. 17). As always, participating in the parade is free. “The Daisy Avenue Parade is special in that it is the only holiday parade that runs down a residential street and not a commercial corridor,” a press release said 7th district Council member James Johnson said. “Last year’s parade was a resounding success, as we had more entries than the parade had seen in many years and over 15,000 spectators.” That turnout is more evidence that Wrigley-area residents have mended their rift of a few years ago, which pitted them against one another over such things as who controlled the parade, who owned the decorations and … well, why don’t we just shut up before we get the whole thing going again? Jeez, we can be clumsy! Sometimes we wish we could speak more diplomatically, more like the way Councilmember Johnson’s press releases say he speaks, such as: “This year, neighbors are coming together again to continue the tradition of bringing outstanding entertainment to the Wrigley area and to Long Beach.” My press release couldn’t have said I said it better.
THE DEETS: DAISY AVENUE PARADE: DECEMBER 10 • 5PM • INFORMATION: WWW.LONGBEACH.GOV/DISTRICT7 562.570.7777
Long Beach Ballet
The winter holidays mean The Nutcracker, and in Long Beach, The Nutcracker means the horse … am I right? They are going to have the big, white horsse—a real horse—on the Terrace Theatre stage again this year, aren’t they? Yes, they are. Of course, the horse is back—this makes 29 years in a row. The flying sleigh will be there again, too. And on-stage pyrotechnics, a full symphony orchestra and a cast of over 200, who will be dancing through scenery by former Disney designers Elliot Hessayon and Scott Schaffer, dressed in costumes designed by Australian artist Adrian Clark and pulling off special effects by renowned magician Franz Harary. And although some experts on the long-term effects of overenchantment reportedly advised against it, the show’s producers went ahead and incorpororated the South Coast Children’s Chorale, creating a performance of The Nutcracker that is such delicious torture that it’s being described as an “extraordinary rendition.”
THE DEETS: DECEMBER 17-18 (SAT, 2PM & 7PM; SUN, NOON & 4PM) • TICKETS $48 TO $24; DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE FOR GROUPS OF 15 OR MORE • 562.436.3636 www.longbeachcc.com