If you’ve counted your blessings and indulged in a lavish turkey
dinner, chances are you might be looking forward to an upcoming South
Bay holiday tradition. For more than three decades Torrance Memorial Medical
Center has launched the holiday season with its own uniquegifttothe South
Bay—Holiday Festival. Featuring lavishly decorated trees, boutiques,
a fashion show, holiday shopping and daily entertainment by various local
groups, the festival is a one-of-a-kind experience, giving back to the
community in multiple ways.
The festive event opens the week after Thanksgiving and last year attracted
18,000 visitors. All funds raised by the event, made possible through
thousands of volunteer hours, benefit local health care services provided
by nonprofit Torrance Memorial.
Carolyn Snyder has volunteered as co-chair (with Bev George) for 33 years
of its 34 years and says she thinks it’s the tradition that draws
so many. “Once someone comes and sees the festival one time, they
come back every year. It becomes a tradition. It’s a tradition for
the hospital and a tradition of people giving their time, money and talents.
So many respond.”
“And where else can you go for $5 and be entertained by singing and
dancing, shop, and see Santa Claus and all the decorated trees? You can
spend two to three hours.”
A fashion show featuring a high-end designer and professional models opens
the festival. Tickets are $125, and the event always sells out. Please
call the Torrance Memorial Foundation at 310-517-4703 early to purchase
tickets. 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 handcrafted 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 lunch and
photos with Santa.
The showpiece of the festival is 36 decorated trees, each with a special
theme. “This year we have a superhero tree, an angel tree and a
Paris themed-tree, along with the customary elves, snowman, Charlie Brown
and woodland trees,” Snyder notes. “The Torrance Fire Department
is doing a Rudolph the Pin-Nosed Reindeer (for breast cancer) and the
ER always has a cuddly, brown bear tree. The Fire Department tree is decorated
by local foster children and the cuddly, brown bear tree is done by special
needs adults, who also make the decorations.”
Most of the themed trees are auctioned off during the black-tie gala on
Friday, and four of the trees donated by area community service groups
are given away to the public via opportunity tickets included with admission.
Fundraising efforts are coordinated by the Torrance Memorial Foundation,
and last year the festival raised $1.5 million. “All the funds go
to the greatest need at the hospital,” Snyder says. “This
year the money goes for renovation of the North Patient Tower, which includes
pediatrics, mother/baby, the neonatal intensive care unit and medical/surgical
“The first year we raised $20,000,” Snyder adds. “Every
year we set our sights a little higher. I told myself once we reached
$75,000, I would retire as a volunteer co-chair. Then we saw we could
raise $100,000 the next year, so I stayed on. It just keeps going.”
Giving is not limited to cash, either. More than 500 volunteers put in
a total of 10,000 hours. And planning is year-round. Starting as the trees
are taken down, work plans are outlined for the coming year.
Snyder says she is so gratified by working with the volunteers over the
years and to see the faces of all the visitors to the Festival. “There’s
nothing like standing inside the tent, watching people walk in and seeing
their faces just light up. It’s like they are looking at the North
Admission to the festival is $5 for adults, free for children 5 and under.
Free for seniors on Wednesday, Nov. 29 and Thursday, Nov. 30 from 10 a.m.
to 2 p.m. $2 for Community Service Groups on Thursday, Nov. 30 from 4 to 9 p.m.
For general recorded information about Holiday Festival, call 310-517-4606.
FESTIVAL PUBLIC HOURS
TUESDAY, NOV. 28
1:30 TO 3:30 P.M.
WEDNESDAY - THURSDAY NOV. 29, 30
10 A.M. TO 9 P.M.
SATURDAY, DEC. 2
10 A.M. TO 9 P.M.
SUNDAY, DEC. 3
10 A.M. TO 4 P.M.