By Kathy Chouteau
Snow and other seasonal delights will transform downtown Richmond into a “Winter Wonderland” Sat., Dec. 21 from 2-6 p.m. when the Christmas in Richmond elves host an event by that name in the parking lot on the corner of Macdonald Ave. and Marina Way.
The annual holiday outreach event, now in its 13th year, is organized by a collective of everyday Richmond residents who partner with local businesses and organizations with the shared aim of creating meaningful experiences for the underserved during the holiday season.
The holiday cheer the Christmas in Richmond crew has planned for that afternoon includes a snow machine, multiple tree lightings, holiday lights, gifts for children, warm blanket giveaways, bike tours by Rich City Rides, local vendors selling jewelry and other wares, as well as info and resources for those in need.
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Free warm meals will also sprinkle an extra helping of happiness into the Winter Wonderland experience.
Christmas in Richmond’s event, which evolves annually and which in past years has included seasonal efforts such as home renovations and pop-up dinners, had the most humble of beginnings. It was the brainchild of a then down-on-their-luck Richmond family: Event Organizer & Co-founder Burgundie Spears, along with her parents and sister.
According to Spears, back in 2006 her family was facing a financial crisis that coincided with the holidays. But instead of focusing on their own troubles, Spears—whose birthday falls in December—said her family decided to focus on others and to “feed the homeless.” Thus, the first Christmas in Richmond initiative was born, and since then they “never celebrated Christmas the same after that.”
“When you focus elsewhere [instead of on yourself], it’s a very welcome distraction,” said Spears, adding, “When you amplify how you’re blessed…you can accomplish some amazing things.”
Leading up to the Winter Wonderland, event partners will be collecting donated toys to give away as gifts to children during the festivities. Toy drop-off locations include: The Richmond Food Hall, 1503 Macdonald Ave., Richmond; Xclusive Shoes, 4926 McBryde Ave., Richmond; Bright Futures Academy, 1060 Manor Rd., El Sobrante; and Rolling Hills Memorial Bank, 4100 Hilltop Dr., El Sobrante.
Sponsors stepping up this year to help make Christmas in Richmond’s Winter Wonderland possible include: VLADO Footwear; Bmikerob Entertainment; Realty ONE Group; Bright Futures; Strategic Partners One; Holistic Healing Collective; KTVU-TV; and Richmond City Councilmember Demnlus Johnson.
If it rains the day of the event, Winter Wonderland will move to an inside location on the same date/time at RPAL, 2200 Macdonald Ave., Richmond.
For more info about Christmas in Richmond’s Winter Wonderland, or to volunteer, contribute or partner re: the event, please contact Burgundie Spears at [email protected] or 510-932-6817 or Brandon Evans at [email protected] or 510-488-8059. More info can also be found here.