In the far background is what is left of the once majestic pine tree Santa Ana Winds snapped during the Thanksgiving holiday that crashed onto the Idyllwild Community Center’s pickleball courts on Idyllwild Pines Camp property. Pickleball players, shown, volunteered to remove the pine and were hard at work at it with chainsaws Friday. Photo by Becky Clark

Thanksgiving eve and day brought strong Santa Ana Winds that stirred up the holiday throughout Southern California, and in Idyllwild, wreaking havoc to the banners hanging between the Red Kettle and the Fort, and driving tumbleweeds across Highway 74 in motorists’ paths through Garner Valley.
Thanksgiving was not a good day to be outside, much less playing pickleball on the courts at Idyllwild Pines Camp. And that was a good thing because either the night before or Thursday, those winds were strong enough to snap a tall pine tree standing near the courts, felling the giant diagonally across both courts, smashing chainlink fencing and netting.
“We are unsure of when exactly the tree fell, but it happened sometime Wednesday night or Thursday morning,” said Idyllwild Community Center Recreation Director Will Steichen. “We are so thankful no one was hurt.”
One thing for certain, Idyllwild pickleball players are avid about their sport and they weren’t about to let a little pickle of a situation such as a fallen pine tree get in their way.
Pickleball player Ginger Dagnall said about 11 players, with Doug Churchill in the lead, volunteered in removing the tree and repairing some of the damage to one of the courts on Friday, a calm day. “… Doug was a powerhouse in the cleanup and removal efforts,” she said.
“A group of local pickleball players stepped up, cut the tree and removed enough to allow for play on one of the two pickleball courts,” said Steichen. “How awesome! We have repairs to do on the fencing, netting and concrete before both courts are up and running.”
By Saturday morning, the winds were forgotten and a group of pickleball players were back at it on the one good court.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), “Santa Ana Winds occur when air from a region of high pressure over the dry, desert region of the southwestern U.S. flows westward toward low pressure located off the California coast. This creates dry winds that flow east to west through the mountain passages in Southern California.”
NWS said expect this weather phenomenon in cooler temperatures between September and May, and it often brings major property damage.