Saint Nick and his sleigh are making an early trip to Castaic starting this weekend.
For 10 days, the Castaic Santa Float, sponsored by the Castaic Lions Club, will travel through the streets of Castaic to spread holiday cheer and warm children’s hearts.
The annual event for the Castaic and Val Verde communities began in 1989 when local businessman Jeff Preach created the home-made float on the back of his motorcycle trailer.
Twenty-seven years later, the home-made float has transformed into a 22-foot flatbed, custom built by a man who worked with Walt Disney Imagineering, which includes Santa, his sleigh and his reindeer on top of a snowy neighborhood scene.
“We drag it [the float] behind a Christmas truck with Christmas music,” Preach said. “We hand out candy canes and we go up and down the street.”
The float follows the same route through the neighborhoods each year, Preach said, so people know when Santa is coming and where he is expected to stop.
“Santa starts in the north and heads south, and we keep the same route if possible,” Preach said. “We generally do eight stops per night.”
At each of the stops, children will tell Santa what they want for Christmas and some will give Santa letters describing their Christmas wish list.
“When the kids see Santa they absolutely light up,” Preach said. “They say this is the real Santa, not the one at the mall.”
During the journey through Castaic neighborhoods, volunteers and organizers collect food and eyeglass donations from community members. The collected donations are then distributed to local families in need through churches, community organizations, schools and the senior center.
According to Preach, approximately 10,000 pounds of food was gathered last year.
“We have about 10 pickup trucks full of food each year,” he said.
Each of the 10 nights are sponsored by local companies, organizations, churches, businesses and families in the area.
“They take it on themselves. I think it is wonderful,” Preach said. “It really is a community float.”
The Castaic Santa Float will travel through neighborhoods Dec. 3 to Dec. 11 from 5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. Its projected route schedule is as follows:
Dec. 3 –Double C Ranch / Hidden Lake sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Dec. 4 –NorthLake / Stonegate sponsored by Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation
Dec. 5 – Violin Apt./RV Park/Lake Hills/Lakeview/Meadowood sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Signal
Dec. 6 –Bravo/Encore/Marigold/ Country Village sponsored by the Friends of Castaic Lake
Dec. 7 Hillcrest Park North sponsored by the Castaic Town Council
Dec. 8 Hillcrest Park South sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce
Dec. 9 North Bluffs / Hasley Hills East sponsored by the Preach Family
Dec. 10 Hasley Canyon / Hasley Hills West sponsored by the Licari Family
Dec. 11 Live Oak sponsored by the Hope Christian Church