CARPINTERIA CLAUS: If you grew up in SoCal and/or the Central Coast any time in the last half of the 20th century, and you drove the 101 at least once, you remember him very well. He was happy, he wore a red cap and glasses, and his beard was quite prodigious.
We're talking, of course, about the mega Santa Claus, the longtime, oversized symbol of Santa Claus Lane. He served as one of the festive symbols of the highway for decades, but that changed in 2003, when a change of management sent Santa and his bags -- or was it his sack? -- packing. After some bustle and hustle on the part of Jolly Old Elf aficionados, Santa was moved to Oxnard and Nyeland Acres a decade ago.
SANTA TO THE SEA: A fresh move can sometimes do wonders, and that is the same for the giant Santa. An annual holiday-time run was born in 2008, a run that would involve him. Nope, he doesn't jog it himself -- we suppose he's too busy checking lists twice -- but he does serve as the landmarkian starting point. It is, in fact, called Santa to the Sea, meaning participants hoof a half marathon from the mammoth Kris Kringle to the ocean. There are some shorter fun runs, too, but if you're inclined to take on the halfer, get this: It's a "Flat, Fast & Festive" trek that visits one of the icons of Oxnard: strawberry fields. Nope, strawberries and Santa Claus are not a traditional pairing, but they are here in fruit-lush California.
LET US PAUSE... to applaud race director Mike Barber, who was instrumental in moving the big Claus back in 2003 (along with the help of volunteers and the Garden Acres Mutual Water Company). Lastly, do people run in seasonal costumes? You bet. And does the run raise money for different scholarships and local organizations? Yes to that, too.