ATASCADERO — The City of Atascadero began ramping up for the end of the year holiday season this past weekend, starting on Friday, with a mixture of delightful, family-friendly, and most importantly, socially distant and safe activities to get people out of the house and into the holiday spirit.

The festivities kicked off at noon on Friday, Dec. 4, when Santa Claus sent two of his reindeer to Atascadero for a pop-up farm in front of City Hall. The reindeer were available for petting, pictures, and even receiving few snacks all weekend from noon to 5 p.m.

Starting at 5:15 p.m., the City allowed cars to pull in and park around the Sunken Gardens. As guests were getting situated around their vehicles, they were treated to a concert from a collection of Atascadero Unified School District choirs and bands broadcast on FM radio for all in the town to hear.

Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno and City Council members joined in on the fun around 6:15 p.m. They announced the winners of the “Trail Of Lights” holiday lighting contest before starting the traditional countdown for the lighting ceremony downtown.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Taking first place in the “Trail of Lights” contest for best use of the theme was the house at 3351 Via Del Sueno, with the home located at 2720 Ferrocarril Rd. finishing second. The most creative light display award was given to the house located at 3950 San Anselmo Rd. and the second-place home was located across town at 9955 Calle Refugio. However, the judges voted the best overall light display in town was located at 5690 Traffic Way.

The City has also announced the winner of its Downtown Business Lighting contest winners, Morjesi’s Salon in first place, Anna & Co in second place, the Raconteur Room in third place and ARTery getting an honorable mention.

Following the lighting of the Historic City Hall, a special someone with a magnificent white beard made an appearance as Mr. and Mrs. Claus rode around the Sunken Gardens in a Model-A Firetruck, wishing everyone “Happy Holidays.”

After the ceremony, the City encouraged cars to head toward the high school for the launch of the Reverse Holiday Parade on High School Hill. Various student groups set up 25 different floats throughout the school and lit them up as community members drove by and marveled from the safety of their cars. The groups were made up of various sports teams, FFA, drama, carolers, and two collaborations with the Elks and Kiwanis clubs.

In addition to the festivities this holiday season, the City introduced a new holiday lighting trail map, “Trail of Lights,” that will offer an opportunity for residents to either showcase their holiday lights or find the best ones in town from Dec. 4-25.

To access the “Trail of Lights” map in Atascadero, click here (I will hyperlink) or head to visitatascadero.com for more information.