Even though it's a bit early to be thinking about Christmas, Leadership Manhattan Beach is already helping Santa prep for the 2017 holiday season.
The 25th Leadership Manhattan Beach class has taken on a class project to Save Santa's Float.
Steven Carvel, the project’s leader and chairman of the Kiwanis Santa Float Committee, said the class decided on the project in hopes of preserving a magical tradition.
“One of the wonderful things that happens around the Santa float is everybody who gets involved with the float becomes a kid at the holiday time again," Carvel said. "It’s all about creating that kind of magical experience for the children and the adult residents. Continuing that experience for the community is why it’s important for the Leadership class.”
The float has been making its rounds in Manhattan Beach for the past 62 years. During the holiday season, the float travels throughout Manhattan Beach on 14 different nights, an entirely volunteer effort. The float also now makes six special stationary appearances at events, such as the Pier Lighting and the Holiday Firework Show.
The Kiwanis Club of Manhattan Beach is the organization primarily responsible for the Santa float, Carvel said. The local service group helps upkeep and maintain the float. However, over time the float has deteriorated.
The float was last renovated in 2009, and this past holiday season, the float’s flaws became apparent. Some of the reindeer broke and most of their antlers had to be repaired. Now, the float has termites, dry rot and severe sun damage.
This year's Leadership Manhattan Beach class wants to use more durable products than those used during the 2009 renovation. Instead of using wood, they want to use materials like aluminum and synthetic wood. Carvel stressed that the group’s design committee would stay true to float’s original quaint character.
In addition to designing the float, the committee is tasked with designing the experience, which includes the lights and music for the float. The committee will also help Santa with a few new outfits for both the big man himself and the elves.
Along with raising funds for the renovation, the class hopes to raise enough funds to make a permanent shelter for the float.
“It doesn’t have permanent cover, so it’s exposed to the elements. Right now, the float is being rained on. In the summer time, it’s got sunshine on it,” Carvel said. “We’re trying to raise enough funds to purchase a permanent shelter for the float at the city yard so that it will always be protected from the elements.”
The project must be completed by May 13. The scale of the float’s renovation will depend on how much funding the 27-member class raises.
To help raise the funds, the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professional Association is pulling together a Downtown Shopping Day. If you shop at 14 of the participating locations all day next Monday, Feb. 27, 10 percent of all sales will be donated to the Save Santa’s Float project. Some participating stores, which will have Save Santa’s Float posters displayed, include, Gum Tree, Beehive, Bella Beach, Bo Bridges Gallery, Third Gallery and Wright’s.
The class is also holding a silent auction at the Bo Bridges Gallery on March 16 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Carvel emphasized that Santa’s float would not be possible without service organizations.
“Things like Leadership Manhattan Beach, the Kiwanis Club and other service organizations are becoming an endangered species. People are so busy these days, it’s hard to get people committed to doing things for the community,” Carvel said. “But they’re really important, because if you don’t do things for the community, then these things don’t just happen by themselves. It takes dedicated committed people to come together behind these projects to make them happen.”