Anza welcomes the holidays with annual Christmas tree lighting

Santa listens to Christmas wishes at the Anza Christmas Tree Lighting. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Santa Claus, festive decorations, gifts, holiday crafts, a meal and looks of wonder on childrens’ faces made for a bright and merry celebration at the annual Anza Christmas Tree Lighting and Dinner event at the Community Hall Saturday, Dec. 7.

The community building was at capacity as people enjoyed every minute of the free party, kicking off the Christmas season with friends and family.

Outside, Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops 319 supplied guests with hot chocolate and baked goods as a good deed for the community.

As the cold, drizzly night began, the Anza Christmas tree was lit up with twinkling and colorful lights, courtesy of the Anza Electric Cooperative Inc.

Families piled back into the Community Hall for performances by Kim Thompson’s troupe of young dancers, cookie decorating and a pasta dinner with salad and garlic tortillas. The meal was organized, prepared and served by Louie Ippolito and Community Hall board members.

The Community Hall Board took a moment to present a special award to long-time volunteer Frank Shaffer, honoring him for his years of dedicated service to the Hall.

“Frank has been helping around the hall for a very long time,” Hall president Johnathan Schmidt said. “The board as a whole appreciates everything he does, and the plaque is just a small token of our appreciation.”

Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington made a surprise visit, bestowing gift certificates on senior citizens at the event. He and his legislative assistant Opal Hellweg mingled about the Hall, making new friends, listening to peoples’ concerns and reconnecting with acquaintances and community activists.

“Kim Thompson’s dance class had two of her groups perform,” organizer Christina James said. “Both performances were just amazing. There was cookie decorating with From the Heart. Other groups and organizations donated funds toward the event. It was an amazing night with many groups coming together. It was so good to see the kids enjoying themselves, and the groups coming together for the community.”

Consultations with Santa took center stage, with family members jostling for the best angles for treasured pictures as Santa listened carefully to Christmas wishes and handed out gifts to the children.

For more information about upcoming events at the Community Hall, visit them on Facebook at

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at