One of the most eagerly-anticipated events of the holiday season in Torrance
is the Holiday Festival at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, featuring
lavishly decorated trees, boutiques, holiday shopping and daily entertainment
by various local groups. Happening the week after Thanksgiving, the festival
dates back to 1984 and attracts 18,000 visitors each year.
“Disneyland might be the happiest place on earth, but we think the
Holiday Festival is the happiest place during the holidays,” brags
Carolyn Snyder, who has volunteered with the festival (for 32 of its 33
years!) and has served as the co-chair with Bev George for the last eight.
“When people come here, their faces just light up and you’ll
see the biggest smiles.”
Set up under a giant tent at Torrance Memorial, the festival features
36 elaborately-decorated trees, each with a special theme.
“You won’t see trees decorated like this anywhere else,”
explains Laura Schenasi, executive vice president of Torrance Memorial
Foundation, which fundraises for the hospital and manages the Holiday
Festival each year. “When you decorate trees in your home, they
tend to be very traditional. But these trees are all decorated around
various themes. Past themes have included safari, surfing, USC, Mardi
Gras—all unique, innovative ideas from the tree designers.”
It’s a year-round effort, with more than 300 volunteers giving approximately
8,000 hours of their time to make it happen. Planning for next year’s
festival begins even before the current year is over, as designers envision
next year’s tree themes. Volunteers start shopping post-holiday
sales, and in January the trees are dismantled, lights stored away, decorations
repurposed and work plans outlined for the coming year.
Each Thursday throughout the year, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers
gather in the Festival Workshop to make decorations. Anyone is welcome
to join these weekly workshops by coming to the festival’s third-floor
space in the Boeing (REEFF) building at 3121 W. Lomita Blvd., adjacent
to Torrance Memorial.
“Come on over, and we’ll find something for you to do. We’ll
teach you how to make a garland or wreath or create decorations,”
While the trees are the highlight of the festival, a boutique area for
holiday shopping is another favorite component and the largest in the
South Bay. Among many great gift ideas, visitors can purchase beautifully
hand-crafted decorations, wreaths and small holiday trees made by the
volunteers. Special marketplaces for seniors and children offer items
under $5 for those on a budget. Other kid-focused activities include cookie
decorating, face painting and a chance to have photos taken with Santa.
Themed trees are available for purchase throughout the week, and during
the black-tie gala on Friday evening, unsold trees are posted in a silent
auction. Some buyers take the trees to their homes or businesses, while
others donate them to various units in the hospital. Included with festival
admission for all visitors is the chance to win one of four opportunity
trees donated by area community-service groups.
A fashion show featuring high-end designers and professional models opens
the festival with a sell-out crowd every year (tickets are $125). Additional
vendors supplement the boutique offerings for an enhanced shopping experience
for guests. By the time it’s all over, the festival raises $1.5
million for Torrance Memorial each year.
“What truly sets this event apart from other fundraising events
is the decorated trees. The festival is a great way to start your holiday
season and help the hospital too,” says Schenasi. “It’s
a fun, uplifting, happy place to be.”
Tuesday, Nov. 29
Following The Ticketed Fashion Show
Wednesday - Thursday,
Nov. 30 - Dec. 1
10 A.M. To 9 P.M.
Friday, Dec. 2,
Closed To Public For Black-Tie Gala.
Saturday, Dec. 3
10 A.M. To 9 P.M.
Sunday, Dec. 4
10 A.M. To 4 P.M.
Admission To The Festival Is $5 For Adults, Free For Children 5 And Under.
Wednesday, Nov. 30 - Thursday, Dec. 1
Free For Seniors From 10 A.M. To 2 P.M.
Thursday, Dec. 1
$2 For Community Service Groups
From 4 To 9 P.M.