Nearly twice the number of lights will brighten the local sky when the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony occurs Nov. 24. On Monday, the lights were strung on the tree at Jo’An’s. Helping string the lights at the top of the tree is Omar Solorio. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

Cold weather blew into the Idyllwild area the second week of November, frosting mountaintops and ridgelines in white. Majestic oaks turned brilliant yellow, seemed more brilliant than in past years and held their colorful foliage longer. Skies remained that special blue so characteristic of the Hill, and with colder temperatures and light winds tossing the now-falling red and yellow leaves, the promise of the holiday season seemed everywhere. Thanksgiving, Christmas and a snowy winter felt imminent.


While many Southern Californians dream of a white Christmas, as palm trees sway above them, Idyllwild often celebrates the holiday season with snow on the ground and on its rooftops. Christmas lights are beginning to decorate storefronts and cabins and on Monday, Nov. 12, right on schedule, Phyllis Mueller’s ChristmasTree Lighting Committee tested lights, expanded the number from 1,400 to 2,600 and with Omar Solorio as lead tree climber, attached them to the Christmas tree in the village center. It is a time when this little mountain hamlet comes to vibrant holiday life.

Thanksgiving weekend, with its family-centered celebrations, ushers in an old-fashioned Currier and Ives holiday season. On Thanksgiving Day from noon to 2 p.m. in keeping with tradition, the American Legion Post 800 offers a free Thanksgiving dinner to anyone who wants to attend. Turkey with all the trimmings is served community style with a fire in the fireplace and the warmth of neighbors and friends.

Also, new Lumber Mill owners Luis and Shelly Solis are holding a canned food drive through Tuesday, Nov. 20. Patrons who bring in two canned food items will receive 10 percent off their Lumber Mill bill. The Solis family will donate the collected items to a local food bank.

The first event of the 2013 Lemon Lily Festival also takes place on Thanksgiving weekend with the auction of fifteen original hand-painted art banners that hung throughout town during last year’s Lemon Lily Festival. Banner bids can be made online at through Nov. 22 or in person at the Lemon Lily Festival booth from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24.

Then on Friday, Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 24, the 46th annual Idyllwild Harvest Festival takes place at Town Hall, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. With many craft booths, the festival features unique mountain-made gifts including quilts, birdhouses, cakes, jams and jellies, holiday decorations, fabric and fine art, pottery and gourds, and hats and scarves.

Directly following the conclusion of the Harvest Festival, beginning at 4:15 p.m. Saturday is the 52nd Idyllwild Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. In this charming small town extravaganza, there is something for everyone of every age — Christmas readings and carols, soloists and choirs, the lighting of the great Christmas tree, Doug Austin and his Olde English Players, a holiday bonfire, festival booths and Lou Padula’s hot dogs, and of most importance to the wee ones, the arrival of Santa Claus. Café Aroma’s Frank Ferro will again be this year’s festival emcee and Casey Abrams will make a special guest appearance.

Local restaurants including the Goodtimes Pub & Grill will be offering the holiday’s gastronomical pleasures of table and vine along with the holiday conviviality typical of Idyllwild. Check out the holiday menus, serving times and reservation policies for local restaurants in the dining section of The Idyllwild Guide, available at the Town Crier office and throughout town.

For information on other events of the Thanksgiving weekend and onward throughout the holiday season, check the Arts & Entertainment calendar in the print and online edition, as well as the online Arts and Entertainment Calendar at