“Christmas is so much more exciting this year,” said Gabby Starkenburg, a first-year media communication major from Washington State. “I get to celebrate it in two places at once.”
For Starkenburg, it is interesting to experience two different climates during the winter season. She loves celebrating in Southern California and Washington because she can partake in new events before engaging in childhood Christmas traditions back home.
In Fall 2022, 30% of students admitted to Point Loma Nazarene University were out of state. With PLNU residence halls closing for Christmas break, many students return home for the holidays.
First-year students from Washington and southern California reflect on their favorite traditions and Christmas activities in their hometowns and in San Diego.
According to Starkenburg, an iconic Washingtonian activity is visiting the Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth. Nestled in the Cascade Mountains, the snowy village hosts Christmas events throughout the holiday season.
“It’s always snowing,” said Starkenburg. “It is the most perfect, untouched town, and every single shop only sells Christmas decorations or Christmas food.”
Avery Pringle, a first-year sports and fitness nutrition major, said that she loves to go to Snowflake Lane in Bellevue, Washington. Snowflake Lane is a Christmas parade with holiday floats, Christmas music, and snow flurries, and is held every night from Nov. 25 to Dec. 24.
“There’s people that come and give little kids lollipops, and you know I always ask for one,” said Pringle.
Pringle also enjoys going to the top of the Issaquah Highlands, an affluent suburb of Seattle, to look at Christmas lights.
“It’s a bunch of really massive, pretty houses that have the best Christmas lights ever, and it looks out at the city,” said Pringle.
Admiring Christmas lights is also a popular activity in Southern California.
Madi Costa, first-year child development major from Los Angeles, said that Candy Cane Lane, located in El Segundo, CA, is one of the most decorated streets in the area, and it is a must see. It is an expectation for these homeowners to go all out with decorations.
Costa enjoys exploring Naples Island, a little town in Long Beach. She said there is a hot chocolate truck and the town is decorated cute and festive with Christmas lights lining the waterfront.
Costa also loves to visit The Grove, a shopping mall in Los Angeles, during Christmas because she has fond memories from her childhood there.
“Since it doesn’t snow where I’m from, every day at a certain time they have soap misters from the top of the buildings, and it rains soap everywhere, which is kind of weird,” said Costa. “It’s like it’s snowing, so for me, as a child, it was so incredibly glorious because it was snowing in California.”
Located closer to PLNU’s campus, Costa looks forward to ice skating at the Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island, while Starkenburg is excited to see the hotel’s lights. The two first-years also expressed interest in seeing Balboa Park’s December Nights and Pacific Beach’s Belmont Park Christmas lights.
Pringle said that she is excited to spend Christmas with her family at home, but she will miss her friends at PLNU. She is excited to come back after break to reunite with her friends.
“As a first year student, I honestly feel like I’m living a double life when I go home. As soon as I get back it feels like I never left. I’m so excited to do the traditions my family and friends do every year,” said Pringle.
Five Free Ways to get into the Christmas Spirit in San Diego
1. Hotel del Coronado
Visit Hotel del Coronado anytime during the Christmas season until Jan. 1 to explore the lights and festive decorations. Skating by the Sea at the hotel is a popular spot to go ice skating. To watch the skaters with an ocean view, stop by Frostbite Lounge.
2. Belmont Park
Stroll through Belmont Park in Pacific Beach this season to admire holiday sculptures, enjoy live entertainment, and experience a thrill on their amusement rides.
3. Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights
Attend the Boat Parade of Lights in Mission Bay on December 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. to see the decorated boats that sail around the bay.
4. North Pole by the Sea
On Dec. 5, enjoy a California Christmas celebration located in Del Mar, CA. This event includes live music, holiday festivities, and a meet and greet with Santa Claus himself.
5. OB Christmas Tree
Look out for the Ocean Beach Christmas tree this season. Where else can you see a giant pine tree growing from the sand? This crooked tree is decorated in OB fashion on Dec. 3 during the Ocean Beach Holiday Parade.
More San Diego holiday activities can be found here.
Written By: Isabel Cheeseman