SANTA LETTERS PROJECT — Kathy Clements, dressed as Santa, collects toys and other items for needy local families through the Santa Letters Project. (From left) Miki Payne, Reyna Singh and Cody Koopmann of H.B. Drollinger Co.; Maureen Costales of Hilsdale, Costales and Associates; Tito Martinez, H.B. Drollinger Co.; Clements (Santa); Mary Hilsdale of Hilsdale, Costales and Associates; and Michael Litvak, president of the Claude C. Ries Chapter No. 48 of the American First Day Cover Society.

Dueling Santas Tour, Luminarias at the Centinela Adobe, Santa letters project adopts needy families for the holidays


Yes Virginia, there will be fireworks in Marina del Rey on New Year’s Eve.

Though Los Angeles County budget cuts threatened to eliminate the popular fireworks display that has for years marked the start of the new year in Marina del Rey, Cindy Williams, who heads the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, wasn’t about to let the tradition die without a fight.

Williams, who organizes a small fireworks display to accompany the boat parade each year, said she would coordinate the technical aspects of reviving the show as long as the community chipped in the money to make it possible.

She said her small display during the boat parade costs $5,300, and that was what she hoped to raise.

With a few emails and a couple of phone calls, the money started to trickle in — hotels, restaurants and charter companies all pitched in. Then, the word spread. Soon, everyone from Playa Vista to Rainbow Acres and the Playa Sunrise Rotary Club had pledged money to make the pyrotechnics show a reality.

“I have been so touched by everybody’s participation,” said Williams, who added that she has already received nearly $11,000 for the show. “Yeah, the county can’t do it and we’re so sad, but the community has come together to say, ‘this can still happen.’ We should be even more proud to see those fireworks on New Year’s Eve because the community made it happen.”

Williams said the display will go off in its typical fashion ——with fireworks beginning 30 seconds before midnight at the south jetty in Marina del Rey. Some of the best places to view the show are Fisherman’s Village at 13755 Fiji Way and Burton Chace Park at 13650 Mindanao Way.

Those interested in donating to make the pyrotechnics display even bigger can contact Williams at (310) 568-1024.


You might not want to let the believers read this next item, but the local community will have dueling Santa Tours this season, complete with lights, sirens and two ——count ‘em ——two Santas visiting Westchester and Playa del Rey.

One Santa Tour, organized by the Playa Sunrise Rotary Club, will see Jolly Ol’ St. Nick accompanied by the Los Angeles Fire Department from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, December 17th.

Santa will stop to take pictures and hand out candy canes along the following routes:

In Loyola Village in Westchester, Santa will visit the following streets of Georgetown, Regis, Holy Cross, Loyola, Gonzaga, Fordham, Belton, Nardian, Altavan and Campion between Manchester and the bluffs;

In Playa del Rey (beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m.), Santa will visit the following streets of Calabar, Tuscany, Billowvista, Rees and Delgany between Manchester and the bluffs; the streets of Earldom, Trask, Rindge, Vista del Mar and Fowling between Culver and Waterview; and between Pershing and Vista del Mar on the streets of Sunridge, Barbour, Talbert, Redlands and Manitoba.

Meanwhile, on the same evening, the Los Angeles Police Department will be escorting Santa on the LAPD sleigh making the following stops:

4 p.m. – Playa Del Lagoon (Pacific and Convoy Avenues)

5 p.m. – 83rd Street at Kenyon Avenue

6 p.m. – 8332 Stewart Ave.

7 p.m. – 81st Street at Emerson

8 p.m. – West 85th Street, west of Rayford Drive; and

9 p.m. – West 81st Street at 83rd Street.



The Historical Society of Centinela Valley will present Luminarias ——a holiday celebration in the tradition of the California Rancho.

The event will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday, December 27th at the Centinela Adobe, 7634 Midfield Ave., Westchester. The celebration will include the lighting of luminarias at dusk as well as Christmas carols and refreshments. Attendees can also tour the Machado Adobe, Freeman Land Office and Haskell Heritage Center.

For more information, please call (310) 431-5517 or



The Claude C. Reis Chapter No. 48 of the American First Day Cover Society has teamed with a Westchester-based accounting firm and the U.S. Post Office to adopt ten local families from among the thousands of letters mailed to Santa Claus by children in the area.

Through the “Dear Santa Letters Project,” Kathy Clements of Hilsdale, Costales & Associates played Santa and collected a variety of gifts that will be given to needy children.

The project continues to seek toys, stuffed animals, crayons, coloring books, sports equipment, backpacks, books, dolls and a variety of clothing in all sizes for both boys and girls. Also being sought are cosmetics and hair products for mothers and ties and dress socks for fathers.

In addition, food items, new canvas bags and other supplies are also being accepted.

“This whole thing started last year because I thought it was a good thing for stamp and cover collectors to have a hobby-related charitable activity,” Clements said.—“Since I wanted more people to be involved, I got others in my office building to donate.”

To make a donation or to assist in packing the donations for the families, please contact Clements at (310) 670-6276 or simply drop off donations at 8939 S. Sepulveda Blvd., suite #408 in Westchester. The donations will be given to the adopted families by the Post Office.