The festive snow-filled evening beat out the weekend’s rainstorm 

ATASCADERO — On the evening of Friday, Dec. 9, from 5 to 9 p.m., Atascadero’s Winter Wonderland returned for its 19th year. An estimated 10,000 residents from San Luis Obispo County came out to Sunken Gardens to enjoy all the snow-filled holiday festivities offered before the weekend’s massive rainstorm rolled in. 

“The weather was in our favor, and we didn’t have any reason to cancel. We were very lucky,” said Deputy City Manager Terrie Banish.

The favorite holiday event brought in 75 tons of snow, which was used to transform downtown Atascadero into a snowy wonderland. The Kiwanis Club of Atascadero, Cuesta Springs Ice Company & Premier Ag built a snow slide that took up three-quarters of a city block. The rest of the snow was used to create two large snow piles for local kids to play in. Santa kicked off the snow slide by being the first one to go down it. After, Santa and Mrs. Claus were at the Historic City Hall to take photos with the kiddos.


“The event was back to its full potential with all of the vendors, snow piles, snow sled, Santa & Mrs. Claus, Joe’s Little Train [operated by the Elks Club of Atascadero], A-Town Skate Park demonstrations, plus performances by the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy Monarch Choir, All District Elementary Choir, Motions Academy of Dance, Fine Arts Academy of Dance, Atascadero High School Choirs, and Atascadero Middle School Choirs,” added Banish. “All was kicked off with California Mid State Fair Queens Court and Council Member Mark Dariz announcing the Trail of Lights Winners. [It was] a beautiful evening weather-wise and a fun night for the community.”

Winter Wonderland also featured 50 food and merchandise vendors where attendees could eat, warm up their insides, and finish up some of their holiday shopping while enjoying the festive setting.

On top of all the snow, there were also other fun activities for families to participate in, and people looking for the perfect photo op were delighted by the addition of large letters spelling out Santa and snow.

“We added the big letters, and they were a hit for photo opportunities. All night long, families were taking pictures in front of SANTA or SNOW,” continued Banish.

Winter Wonderland would not have been possible without this year’s sponsors, including; Exclusive Sponsor: Cielo Ristorante & Rooftop Bar. Presenting Sponsors: American West Tire & Auto, Kiwanis Club of Atascadero, AJ Excavating, Chicago Grade Landfill, Cuesta Springs Ice Company, Premier Ag, and Supervisor Debbie Arnold. Supporting Sponsors: Filipponi & Thompson Drilling, Kirk Consulting, Perry’s Parcel & Gift, Stout Pediatric Dentistry. Snow Sponsors: Atascadero 76, Atascadero Insurance, CCPN, Delta Liquid Energy, HHMC Tax, Inc. (Hayner, Hayner, Miller & Crist), Healing the Quantum Way, Idlers HOME, Mechanics Bank, Nick Medeiros CPA, Pambrun Bracing, Primary Eye Care, Radiology & Assoc., Starna Cells, Summer Real Estate, Inc., Taco Bell, and Western Janitorial Supply. Media sponsors: American General Media: KJUJ 98.1 FM & KVEC AM 920, Dimes Media: The Beach 98.3 FM, KPRL AM 1230, and New Times. 

Other community organizations and individuals involved in creating the magical Winter Wonderland were; A-Town Park, Elks Lodge #2733, Frank Sommers, Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, Fine Arts Monarch Choir & All District Elementary Choir, Motion Academy of Dance, Fine Arts Academy Dance Group, Atascadero High School ASB, Atascadero High School Athletic Department, Atascadero High School Choirs, Atascadero Middle School Choirs, Atascadero High School Strings/Jazz/ Concert Band, Kiwanis Key Club, Medina Light Show Designs, Rotary of Atascadero!

Winter Wonderland will be back for its 20th year on Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. 

Photos by Rick Evans/ATN