Balboa Island Tree LightingIt was Christmas card perfect for the Balboa Island Tree Lighting 2013 ceremony on Sunday, December 1st – 78 degrees and mostly sunny, with a 100% chance of snow. Families and friends gathered at the fire station on the corner of Marine Avenue for the traditional holiday kickoff, put on by the Balboa Island Improvement Association.

Children waited anxiously behind yellow caution tape until they were given the go ahead to jump in the snow, machine-made in a shady spot in front of the Village Inn. For many, it was the first time they had ever seen it, so packing snowballs and slipping and sliding were an exciting experience. With the unseasonably warm temperatures, the outfits were humorous. Some kids sported shorts and snow boots, others wore mittens and flip flops. A golden retriever even got in the mix, thrilled to roll around and play.

“The snow is awesome!” squealed Brooke and Allegra, ages 7 and 8, as they rocketed snowballs. Having seen snow before in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Italy, they were pros with the white stuff.

Rick Sherman created a festive atmosphere with his holiday music mix and laid-back humor. It was his 17th year hosting this event. Children performed Christmas carols, as well, inspiring the crowd to join in. The Young Singers of Orange County gave an enthusiastic rendition of “”Mr. Grinch”,” and an adorable brother-sister duo sang “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better.)”

And then, the moment everyone was waiting for. Santa and Mrs. Claus made their entrance in an old fashioned Model T a little before 5:00. Youngsters of all ages lined up to sit on Santa’s lap and whisper their wishes.

The beautiful, huge pine tree in front of the fire station was decorated with ornaments and bows. As dusk fell, the crowd shouted the countdown and the tree lights lit up. Balboa Island, already so beautiful, just twinkled in the glow of holiday lights. The hot apple cider flowed, the carolers sang on, and it was a magical evening.

Watch the video below or view pictures from the Balboa Island Tree Lighting.