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It’s August and CdM is thinking about Christmas

By AMY SENK

August is here – there’s still time to go to the fair or the beach, or plan a quick little vacation before school starts. But at the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce office, the discussion is centered on the December calendar and the annual Christmas Walk.

“It’s a lot of work,” said CdM Chamber President Linda Leonhard. “It’s why I work on it now.”

The date has been set – Sunday, Dec. 8 – which is later than usual because the traditional Christmas Walk day (the first Sunday in December) falls on Thanksgiving weekend. But getting the date pinned down is just the start.

The current to-do list involves gathering permits and collecting sponsorships for the event, which draws thousands of visitors to the village to shop, eat, drink and check out entertainment ranging from school choirs and dance groups to stilt walkers and bands. The next tasks include coming up with plans to handle trash, booking entertainment, deciding whether there should be artificial snow, security arrangements, logistics and more.

Leonhard said this year’s event could have more activities for kids, possibly in the Sherman Library & Gardens parking lot, but her idea to close parts of Bayside Drive to expand the event (and the popular beer and wine garden in particular) hit snags because of concerns about residents’ access to their homes. Each year, she said, she walks the event and makes notes for what needs to be changed or improved, often incorporating suggestions from vendors and visitors.

The Christmas Walk is one of the major CdM Chamber events of the year and will be celebrating its 41st anniversary – Leonhard’s 16th since “inheriting it,” she said.

“It started out as a grassroots event to bring shoes in the shops,” she said. “And it’s grown.”

She already is starting to get calls from local business owners who are starting to make their Christmas Walk plans.

Meanwhile, cars parked along East Coast Highway in Corona del Mar are getting an extra hour after a unanimous City Council vote last month to increase parking time limits from one to two hours. But at a recent CdM Business Improvement District board meeting, members had questions about whether the time limits would be enforced before the signs had been changed to reflect the bonus hour.

Its August parking sign

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Amy Senk

This parking sign on Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar is affixed with the two-hour limit sticker

City spokeswoman Mary Locey said she investigated that question after the meeting and said crews began last week (July 26) to add stickers to show the two-hour limit, and that work was expected to be completed by week’s end. In the meantime, she said, parkers should obey the time limit indicated on the closest sign to avoid a parking ticket.

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And over by Little Corona Beach, crews have been working on the slope below the public restrooms above Buck Gully because of a storm drain issue.

“Staff noticed over the winter that the pipe wasn’t draining well (it carries storm water),” City of Newport Beach spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said. “They did a CCTV inspection last week and saw the old pipe needed to be replaced but couldn’t get down far enough to see what was blocking it and causing the draining issue. When the contractor was removing the old pipe this week, they found it was a root ball.”

The work was scheduled to be completed by August 2, replacing an older corrugated metal pipe with new PVC pipe, she said. The area around the pipe will be replanted with native plants in the fall.

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Amy Senk has lived in Corona del Mar for 20 years and was publisher of Corona del Mar Today, an online newspaper that ran daily for seven years. Senk, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is involved in the Corona del Mar Residents Association and the Corona del Mar High School PTA. She and her husband have two children.