Laughs, snow and lights galore: Castaic Lake celebrated its 28th annual Winter Magic event on the first Saturday of December, continuing tradition with an attendance of over 400 people.
Hosted by Friends of Castaic Lake, in cooperation with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks & Recreation, the event encouraged residents to partake in festive fun, while waiting for sunset to watch the lighted boat parade.
“Friends of Castaic Lake is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the enhancement and promotion of Castaic Lake. As a volunteer group, we are involved in and support various lake activities including the Junior Lifeguards, float tube derbies … and Winter Magic,” said Courtney Tole-Schmitz, vice president of Friends of Castaic Lake. “We also work in support of other organizations in the community including the Boy Scouts of America, Castaic (Union) School District, Wounded Warriors Foundation, Relay for Life and more.”
Along with John & John — DJs who are members of Friends of Castaic Lake and provided entertainment — children could ride sleds down the snow, get their faces painted and even write a letter to Santa.
In addition, those who donated an unwrapped $10 toy to the Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley or one canned food item for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry could receive 10 or one raffle ticket(s), respectively.
As the sun set, attendees gathered around the lake to watch the eight contestants participate and proudly show their decorated boats for a chance to win a prize.
According to Tole-Schmitz, Tommy’s Boats placed first, Mike Kocik placed second and Greg Wolf placed third.
Micaela Gonzalez, an event coordinator for L.A. County Parks & Recreation, attributed the success of the event to the efforts of Friends of Castaic Lake, who collaborated with the park.
“Friends of Castaic Lake is a nonprofit that supports park programming. They’ll do fundraising, sell little things to help the park programs and they’re the ones that pay,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of the things were donated by them for us to have the resources, whether it’s the hot cocoa, the lighting, the face painter.”
Gonzalez discussed the process of bringing the event back post-COVID, and the overall atmosphere surrounding Winter Magic.
“This is the 28th year of our Winter Magic featuring a lighted boat parade. There are people who are volunteering, and overall the turnout has been phenomenal,” Gonzalez said. “Especially after the last few years where we stayed safe, but now, people are feeling a lot better about seeing their neighbors again.”
Gonzalez recognizes the upward trend of attendees and looks forward to the attendance of local residents for future holiday events.
“The word has been getting out again. I think we went from having, let’s say 100, to now 300 people,” Gonzales said. “That’s great for our small community, since we’re not in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, but we still do get some people from the (San Fernando) Valley.”
The volunteers included Vicky Jamison, a first-year volunteer who felt encouraged by Gonzalez and happy to participate.
Larry De George, along with his wife, Nanette, volunteered together while looking forward to the evening boat show.
“My wife volunteers for the senior center up [here]. I’m the president of the Flying Club, and we deal with the park all the time. So whenever something happens, we’re aware of it. When we heard about this, my wife said we should probably volunteer,” De George said.
“I’m from Castaic — I’m a volunteer and a senior citizen. We’re here doing our boat race and we’re having a really good time,” Nanette said. “There’s a lot of free stuff for the kids — hot dogs, hot chocolate, Santa’s here, and we’re just having a good old time. Merry Christmas to everybody, and a happy, happy new year.”