Upcoming Holiday Event Season Activities

By: City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

It’s really hard to believe, but we’re already seeing lots of holiday decorations and lights going up, and not only in the retail stores – I’ve seen a few homes in town with beautiful displays that show our community is getting into the spirit too! Thanksgiving is already upon us and then the busy annual holiday season will really be in full swing. At this time of year there is always so much to do, but we all should also take a little time out from all of the planning, preparation, cooking and other necessary responsibilities for some fun and a little bit of magic as well! Be sure to mark your calendars now for all of the great, family-friendly events that are coming right around the corner, specially designed to generate many wonderful memories.

Ahead of this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, be sure to visit the new Atascadero Fall Festival, which will be a free-admission, three-day, fun-filled event, located at Sunken Gardens, November 19th through the 21st. There’s going to be plenty of great music with over 20 live bands playing on two stages; lots of carnival rides and games, Street Faire vendors, food trucks and local craft beers available at multiple locations throughout the event, and everyone will want to ride the Ferris wheel that will be located right in front of Historic City Hall! This new event is shaping up to be something really spectacular! Please be aware that there will be street closures around the Sunken Gardens downtown area beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday the 18th, through late Sunday the 21st, to allow for event preparation, setup, the three-day event itself, and cleanup.

You won’t want to miss out on our 2nd Annual Holiday Trail of Lights Tour Map to know exactly where to take an evening drive or neighborhood stroll to see all of the wonderfully decorated local homes, guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday spirit! Information about registering your own address to participate, or to obtain the Trail of Lights map can be found on www.visitatascadero.com/trailoflights.

Our annual Light Up the Downtown Holiday Lighting celebration will be held on Friday, December 3rd from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at City Hall, Sunken Gardens and throughout downtown Atascadero. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., you can sip and shop with the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce’s ever-popular Art, Wine & Brew Tour (visit www.atascaderochamber.org for ticket information); then at 6:00 p.m. everyone will gather in the Sunken Gardens area in front of Historic City Hall as we count-down to the beautiful holiday lighting of City Hall. Santa and Mrs. Claus will then arrive via our antique Model-A fire truck and children will be able to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the North Pole entrance, located at the Lewis Avenue side of City Hall, facing Atascadero Middle School. There will be lots of great holiday music, free hot chocolate, Model-A fire-truck rides, and complimentary hay rides by Harris State Lines!

The extremely popular Winter Wonderland event will be held on Friday, December 10th from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., with Sunken Gardens and the entire downtown being transformed into a magical, snowy paradise! We’ll have over 65 tons of snow for the large snow pile play areas, and a massive snow-slide will be built by the Atascadero Kiwanis. Many downtown merchants will be open, along with numerous craft and food vendors. Joe’s Little Train will be in operation by the Elks Club and it’s rumored that Santa and Mrs. Claus may stop by Winter Wonderland too, and Santa may even take a ride down the snow-slide!

Be sure to bring the whole family for some Holiday Magic at the Charles Paddock Zoo, which will be held on Saturday December 18th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Our wonderful Zookeepers will be transformed into Santa’s Elves that day, so that they can assist our animal residents with opening their very special holiday treats and gifts!

Then, just as the holidays and events of the season have wound down, we’re very excited to bring you the 6th Annual Tamale Festival, coming on Saturday, January 15th, 2022! The festival will include over 30 vendors with plenty of tasty and tempting tamales, along with lots of terrific entertainment including MC Francisco Ramirez, Medina Light Show Designs, a wide variety of fun and exciting music including Mariachi bands, the Folkloric Dancers and the Famous Dancing Horses. This wonderful event will be a very exciting occasion and is free to attend and to enjoy the entertainment, but don’t forget to bring your wallet to purchase plenty of delicious tamales, other delicious food and great merchandise!

Please note that vendors and volunteers are still needed for both Winter Wonderland and Tamale Festival! For all of our upcoming event information, go to www.visitatascadero.com or email info@visitatascadero.com.

I hope that everyone is able to take some time away from their year-end responsibilities to enjoy at least a few of these great events, and has a truly wonderful holiday season.

City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

Rachelle Rickard is a native of California and a nearly 30 year resident of Atascadero. She graduated with a business degree from California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State University in San Luis Obispo. In February 1997, She took a job as the Accountant with the City of Atascadero and was promoted to the position of Director of Administrative Services. At the time of her appointment to the position of Administrative Services Director for the City of Atascadero, she was the youngest person ever appointed to that role; she was also the first female Department Head ever appointed within the City. Rachelle Rickard was appointed to the position of City Manager of the City of Atascadero in June, 2013.