Bringing Family Traditions to Our Community

Throughout the course of 2017, we will bring you a special section called “SRCA Works For You.” We plan to highlight how the Scripps Ranch Civic Association (SRCA) improves your quality of life in Scripps Ranch. This month we feature a family tradition the SRCA has hosted for 34 years—the Community Tree Lighting Ceremony.

This beloved event provides a welcoming place for residents to herald in the holiday season year after year. Families bring blankets and chairs to Jerabek Park, sip hot chocolate, watch the children play, and listen to our young people lead us all in holiday music. The SRCA works for you by hosting this event with local Girl Scout troops. Originally, it was held near the Vons on Scripps Ranch Boulevard and was later moved to Jerabek Park.

The tree is cast with LED lights, courtesy of Scripps Ranch Maintenance Assessment District supervisor Eileen Rodriguez and her “elves” from Landscapes USA. Eileen installed a timer a few years ago that saves us from having someone go to the park at night and in the morning to turn the lights on and off.

Col. Bob Dingeman has attended every ceremony wearing his decorated Santa hat. He loves to tell the story about the first tree lighting when we had our councilmember plug the lights into the electrical outlet. Apparently, as the story is repeated, he stood in a pool of water and was promptly mildly electrocuted! We still invite our councilmember to the tree lighting but someone else plugs in the tree!

For the last two years our event chair, Tiffany Vinson, plugged in the tree. We can’t afford to lose her as she is doing a wonderful job leading the event and holds the important role of SRCA secretary!

Others we can’t live without to make this a special holiday event are the Girl Scouts and their parent leaders. We want to thank Laleaque Grad and Cynthia Collins for their dedicated service that enables the girl scouts to organize, problem solve, fundraise, and be leaders. In fact, another benefit of this event is helping young girls put together a community event. What a better way to learn to be a leader?! It is wonderful to watch how the older girls help the younger ones.

Of course we have to bring in a sound system, which means calling on Andy Nicholas—this year’s SRCA Citizen of the Year!—and the Old Pros. And to tie it all together, Andy’s granddaughter, Page, is a girl scout. Again, the SRCA works for you…this time by providing a place for volunteers to get together to organize a special tradition for residents.

Our tree lighting is about enjoying the season but it is also about giving to others who are less fortunate. The SRCA and Girl Scouts team up to help our U.S. Marines in the Toys For Tots collection. We exceeded expectations this year with the amount of toys collected. Thank you! We also thank the Marines—and all service men and women—for their service.

Finally, we have to contact Santa far in advance to be sure he can attend the tree lighting. Every child gets an opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap. Secret arrangements are made with Santa via a private message sent by longtime volunteer Marvin Miles.

Count on the SRCA to continue to work for you and bring you this community tradition again next year.

Bob Ilko, SRCA President