By Dena Burroughs
The 41st annual Holiday House in El Monte transformed the city’s community center into an oasis of color, food, and music. Held on the first day of December, it gave the City’s residents a push into their holiday spirit with a chance to pose with Santa and his elf, an opportunity to create edible crafts, and plenty of choices to start up their season’s shopping.
In the center’s courtyard saxophone music delighted the ears while sugar and chocolate confections tempted the eyes. By 11 a.m. Anthony Oliveros and Denise Guardado had already talked their mother into buying them a huge piece of solid chocolate shaped into a Christmas tree and decorated with M & Ms.
Inside, about a dozen vendors displayed their arts and crafts – earrings, carved wooden boxes, candy, and a seemingly unlimited amount of holiday decorations. Above them, on stage, Santa sat patiently in his world of trees and lights welcoming each child and adult wanting to take a picture with him. Meanwhile, Jenny Luna & The Moondogs sang happy holiday tunes between the Christmas tree and the eggnog stand.
In separate rooms residents admired the gingerbread houses entered into the contest and the trees adorned by the different City departments, including the Police’s unmistakable tree wrapped in yellow “crime scene” tape. Others spent some time perusing through the vintage items set out for sale, and children found a spot in long arts and craft tables, supervised by volunteer students from Arroyo High School, to create a Christmas tree out of sugar and marshmallows that one could later see in different stages of munching throughout the house.
Outside, lines of gingerbread men and a huge snowman kept watch as children played in moon bouncers and while breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served as the day moved on. With bowls of menudo and plates of carne asada, spaguetti, and pie, the Arroyo High School and El Monte High School Cheer Teams, and the El Monte Pee Wee Cheerleaders and PTA Council raised money for their own activities while satiating the hunger of all those enjoying one of the best day-long activities presented to the residents of El Monte.
Lots of activity surrounded Santa and his elf. -Photo by Dena Burroughs