Environmentalists and holiday enthusiasts alike arrived at Placerita Canyon Nature Center to take part in its annual Holiday Craft Fair on Saturday and Sunday. Guests were encouraged to create and design their own Christmas-themed decorations and trinkets using a wide array of natural materials such as fresh-cut greenery and pine cones.
“We love to preserve nature at the Nature Center,” said docent naturalist volunteer Glenda Perl, who’s been working with the center for eight years. “Mostly people just come here to make their wreath, and they leave, but everybody leaves with a happy face and a big smile on their face, and I’m pretty much taking pictures of everybody leaving with their gorgeous, unique handmade wreaths.”
The event also provides the Nature Center with a source of revenue for its animal care, as it houses many animals that can’t be released back into their natural habitats.
“This is the only fundraiser that we do for the Nature Center, and it is to raise money so we can feed the animals,” said docent Evelyne Vandersande, who has been working with the Nature Center for 36 years. “We have a lot of animals that have been injured in one way or another, and we are able to keep them at the Nature Center to present to the public. We need to pay for the food. We need to pay for vet care, for the housing. This all comes to a certain cost.”
“All of the animals that we have here at the nature center are rescue animals, or maybe they were raised by humans and they were confiscated, but in any case, they’re here because they wouldn’t survive if they were released into the wild,” said Perl. “Our turkey vulture only has one wing. We think maybe he was just doing his job cleaning up the roadkill and maybe he got hit by a car. We have a red-tailed hawk who also has a wing injury. We take very good care of the animals here.”
The main crafts building was divided into two sections: a room where families and guests of all ages could make wreaths and centerpieces, and a second room where children could make crafts on their own.
“We decorate wreaths with natural leaves and seeds and different kinds of things like that,” said Docent Association Group President Fred Seeley, who was greeting guests as Santa Claus and posing for pictures. “And we have a room of crafts for kids, from stuffing pine cones with peanut butter and bird seed down to just decorating bird houses and decorating candles.”
The docents and other employees of the Nature Center pride themselves on taking part in the annual fair, as they see it as a great opportunity for participants to celebrate the holiday season, the Nature Center, and each other.
“It’s fun to see the light in their eyes, the beautiful kids,” Seeley said.
“You know, it’s really a family event,” Vandersande said. “You have people that have come here for 30 years, that have come with their little children, and now their children are grown up and they come with their own children. So it’s a very ‘community’ type of event.”