It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are right around the corner. And Westchester has plenty in store to celebrate.

You’re going to want to get out your calendar and save a few dates so that you can join in on some of the best holiday celebrations in town.

Santa will make his first visit of the season to Westchester from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 5th, at the second annual Santa’s Village and Festival of Trees at Visitation School, 8740 Emerson Ave.

Santa’s elves will arrive by fire engine at noon, Mrs. Claus and the “Clausettes” will arrive by limo at 12:30 p.m. and Santa himself will make a grand entrance by helicopter at 1 p.m. Admission to the event is free.

More than 30 Santa’s Village Shops will be available for Christmas shopping, and there will be a wide variety of games, entertainment and other opportunities.

Children will enjoy a snow play area with two sled runs, pony rides, face painting, craft projects and much, much more.

A variety of foods will be available throughout the event, and Santa’s Take-A-Break Movie Theater will provide continuous movies all day. The event will also include a silent auction, a holiday boutique and even a coloring contest.

In addition to all the fun, Visitation School will be collecting items for the needy. Those who would like to participate should bring a $10-to-$15 new and unwrapped toy and/or a grocery gift certificate from a local market.

The toys and gift certificates will be donated to St. Margaret’s Center in Lennox. The center serves approximately 14,000 people annually who live in Inglewood, Lennox, Hawthorne, Westchester and El Segundo, all in close proximity of the Los Angeles International Airport.

Problems securing government funding have led the center to increasingly rely on volunteers to guarantee that services are not interrupted.

For more information, Terry O’Connor, (310) 994-9904.

SANTA TOUR — Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the elves will be making another special visit to Westchester with the help of the Los Angeles City Fire and Police Departments Wednesday, December 15th.

From 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., Santa will make his way through the streets of residential Westchester riding on a fire truck, waving to children, handing out candy canes and posing for photographs.

A band of holiday carolers will be joining Santa to provide musical entertainment. Keep looking out your window ’cause Santa Claus is comin’ to town.

Santa’s route:

In Kentwood: beginning at 4:30 p.m., Santa will visit the following streets between 80th Street and 85th Place: McConnell Avenue, Chase Street and Kenyon, Stewart, Westlawn, Dunbarton Avenues.

Santa will also visit the 81st and 82nd Streets between Emerson and Alverstone Avenues.

In Westport Heights: beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m., Santa will visit the following streets between 78th and 82nd Streets: Naylor, Vicksburg, Truxton, Croydon, Bleriot and Airlane Avenues.

YMCA TREE LOT — Responding to the Westchester Ys Men’s Club’s need for more space, Arden Realty, commercial property owner of the Howard Hughes Center, has provided space for the Y’s Men’s Christmas tree lot in Howard Hughes Center.

Beginning Wednesday, December 1st, the Christmas tree lot will be located near the intersection of Center Drive and Howard Hughes Parkway at the east end of the center.

Funds raised by the tree lot will go to benefit YMCA programs.

During its 50-year history, the Westchester Y’s Men’s Club has continued its mission to serve and support its local YMCA programs for people of all ages regardless of their ability to pay.

During the past ten years, the Westchester Y’s Men’s Club has contributed more than $175,000 to support the Youth in Government program, YMCA Indian Guides and Indian Princesses and the Lakers basketball program, as well as camp programs and the Airport Marina Counseling Service.

Members of the Westchester Y’s Men’s Club serve on the YMCA board of managers and as team members during the Y’s annual fundraising campaign. Personal pledges and membership support the club mission to work for a better community.

The Howard Hughes Center location offers ample parking and a warm welcome for old and new friends.

The lot opens with an excellent selection of noble fir and plantation fir trees. Information, (310) 670-5829.

RABBI, LMU PROFESSOR HONORED — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the well-known not-for-profit foundation dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and discrimination, honored Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer, LMU professor of Business Law, with a Distinguished Community Service Award Sunday, November 14th.

The award was given by the ADL and Santa Barbara B’nai B’rith Lodge at a dinner at the Bacara resort in Goleta.

Larry King of the CNN television program “Larry King Live” served as the master of ceremonies. Also honored was Father Virgil Cordano, pastor emeritus of Mission Santa Barbara.

Co-chair of the LMU Department of Marketing and Business Law, Gross-Schaefer has taught at the university for nearly 25 years.

He also is the LMU Hillel rabbi.

An active member of the community, Gross-Schaefer is rabbi for the spiritually-based Community Shul of Montecito and Santa Barbara.

He has created ethics and wellness audits for rabbis and synagogues, and he develops guides on legal issues facing clergy. He also has spoken on issues of bioethics and end-of-life decisions, and he serves on bioethics committees.

He has assisted Native Americans and Quakers, written articles on such topics as lawyer burnout and sexual misconduct, and lectured on legal ethics. He also consults and leads workshops on issues of religion and public education throughout California.

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