Holiday season activities begin

City Hall lighting, Santa and snow slides aplenty coming in December

The annual holiday lighting for the City of Atascadero takes place this Friday at dusk. Instead of tree lights in Sunken Gardens, the City has decorated City Hall with garlands and a wreath. The Atascadero Fire Department helped Public Works lift and hang the 10-foot mountain pine wreath, adorned with LED lights and a five-foot bow on the historical building.

“In addition to that, it became more and more problematic to light up these aging trees, the stress on the trees, not to mention the time and effort that we put into that. So we’ve decided that we’re going to light up City Hall — it’s an amazing look already with a few sneak peeks as you walk by,” City Manager Rachelle Rickard said.

To liven up the decorations, two 12-foot Christmas trees were placed in Sunken Gardens. “So there will be plenty to light up this Friday.”

“I think everybody enjoyed trying this,” Rickard said. “It was a challenging project and it was fun to sit and watch. We attracted quite a crowd just watching the wreath go up.”

After the lighting ceremony children will be able to visit with Santa. The event hosts, the City and Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, will be offering complimentary hayrides and tours of City Hall as part of the festivities and hot chocolate will be served.

“Everyone is invited to bring their family and friends to enjoy a beautiful and fun evening to help bring in the season. We also encourage visitors to Atascadero to see our beautiful holiday showcase throughout December,” Rickard said.

To kick off the holiday lighting, $15 tickets will be sold for an Art & Wine Tour starting at 5:30 p.m. this Friday, as downtown merchants host wine tastings before the lighting.

The next day, Saturday, Dec. 2, the Atascadero Lake Neighborhood Association is hosting a Holiday Musical Walk Around the Lake from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The walk will be filled with musical groups, carolers, community singing, holiday decorations and the man himself: Santa. On this special day, the Charles Paddock Zoo will be open for free.

On the morning of Dec. 2 the Galaxy Theatre in Atascadero will be showing the “Polar Express” at 9 a.m., 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. The movie ticket also includes popcorn, hot cocoa and a visit from Santa. Presale tickets for $10 will be on sale at Atascadero Cooperative Preschool, Baby’s Babble or online at or $12 at the door.

Also on Saturday, Dec. 2 is a holiday event for dogs to be photographed with Santa. “Santa Paws” will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Photos will cost $15 for one or $20 for two pup photos with Santa. All proceeds will go toward the upkeep of Heilmann Dog Park, where the event will take place. 

Sunken Gardens and downtown Atascadero  will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland on Friday, Dec. 8 from 5 to 9 p.m. Atascadero’s center will be bustling with a massive snow slide, snow play areas, a rock climbing wall, bounce houses, Joe’s Little Train, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and more than 50 food and craft vendors. 

“This will be a winter paradise,” Rickard said. “Everyone can have lots of fun and get some shopping done all in one evening.”

“Holiday Magic at the Charles Paddock Zoo” takes place on Dec. 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The zookeepers will be stepping in as Santa’s elves to prepare and deliver gifts for the animals.

“And Santa will also be there, so Santa’s got a busy few weeks ahead too in addition to getting ready for Christmas,” Rickard said.

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