By Jorge Casuso
December 22, 2022 — The snow fell again and Santa Claus was back as nearly 1,000 Santa Monicans gathered under the Miramar Hotel’s iconic fig tree to celebrate the holidays after a two-year hiatus.
The annual “Meet Me Under The Fig Tree” holiday celebration — which took place on Sunday December 11 — also brought forth forth a renewed surge of holiday giving during its month-long charitable food and clothing drive.
|Snow falls at Miramar’s “Meet Me Under the Fig Tree” (Photos by BleuCottonPhoto)|
The drive collected nearly three-and-a-half tons of non-perishable food, hundreds of items of donated business clothing and more than $1,000 in contributions to local charities.
“It was amazing to be back under the Moreton Bay Fig Tree for this magical afternoon enjoyed by Santa Monicans young and old,” said Sam Jagger, General Manager of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows.
“Despite some cold and windy weather, we were still able to welcome the community back to the Miramar to experience the joys of the season while contributing to local organizations that help those in need.”
Once again, residents of the balmy beach town played in the snow and enjoyed live performances by the Santa Monica High School Chamber Orchestra and Grammy-winning jazz artist Bill Cunliffe.
|Donations made during “Meet Me Under the Fig Tree” holiday event|
Hosted once again by KTLA personalities Wendy Burch and Eric Spillman, the celebration offered holiday cookie decorating, a bounce house, a puppy station hosted by Wags and Walks, arts & crafts and a whimsical ginger bread house display.
Holiday revelers got a chance to meet members of the Santa Monica Police Department and its mounted unit, along with the Santa Monica Fire Department, who brought a Fire Engine.
As he has been every year, the star attraction was Santa Claus who returned after a two-year hiatus to pose for pictures that parents can now access on flickr.com.
Guests were also treated to a complimentary raffle featuring prizes donated by community partners that included Helen’s Cycles, Blue Plate Oysterette, Chez Jay, Atelier Edward Avedis, Exhale Spa and Meat on Ocean.
And they had a chance to savor tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and Abuelita’s hot chocolate from Miramar’s celebrated FIG Restaurant and food from local Santa Monica partners.
Participating restaurants included 1212 Santa Monica, Fia Restaurant, Emporium Thai, Michael’s Santa Monica and Wally’s, with desserts served by Vanilla Bake Shop and The Butter End.
Attendees were asked to bring non-perishable food for The Westside Food Bank, and a total of 6,735 pounds of food was donated. That brings the total collected at the annual event over the years to 76,000 pounds.
The Westside Foodbank will distribute the food to individuals and families in need, while the clothing collected in partnership with Santa MoniCARES will go to clients of Chrysalis, a local non-profit job agency that helps low-income and homeless adults find work.
The business clothing donation drive provides ready-to-wear interview clothing and accessories to clients of Chrysalis, which has helped nearly 60,000 individuals find work since 1984.
“We are humbled by how the Santa Monicans went above and beyond in their generosity this year,” said Ellis O’Connor of MSD Partners, the Fairmont Miramar’s ownership group.
“We are very fortunate to be part of such an amazing community and we look forward to continuing this Santa Monica tradition again next holiday season,” O’Connor said.
Misti Kerns of Santa MoniCARES — a coalition of representatives from Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT) and community partners — said she is already looking forward to next year’s celebration.
“Giving back always starts locally and we are excited that we could partner again this year with the Fairmont Miramar and MSD Partners on this very unique Santa Monica event,” said Kerns, who heads SMTT.
“Not only did everyone have a great afternoon of holiday fun and entertainment, but they got to also give back, which is really what the holiday season is all about.”
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