Executive director Lynn Brittner, Scott Burns, and event chair extraordinaire Lisa Burns.

Gail Arnold

Executive director Lynn Brittner, Scott Burns, and event chair extraordinaire Lisa Burns.

Santa Barbara Historical Museum Holds Festive Holiday Party

El Paseo Restaurant Brims with Holiday Trees, Festival Ballet Performs

Once is not enough for the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. This venerable institution throws two fundraisers a year and both are a smashing good time. Just like La Fiesta del Museo in July, the museum’s holiday party, Light Up the Season, held last Saturday, November 12, was full of lively entertainment and good cheer. The historic El Paseo Restaurant was overflowing with 13 donated holiday fantasy trees, each complete with decorations and significant goodies. The Old Spanish Days tree was especially festive, the Montecito Bank & Trust’s “Money Tree” was especially popular. While mingling during the cocktail hour, most of the 150 guests deposited raffle tickets in jars next to the trees. Guests enjoyed a decadent three-course meal with a ribeye steak and salmon entree and donated Windrun wines. Then master of ceremonies John Palminteri and an equally charming and entertaining assistant, Sienna Valentine, a nine year-old museum volunteer, announced the lucky raffle winners.

The entertainment included an exceptional performance by the Santa Barbara Festival Ballet of the Party Scene from The Nutcracker, which was especially delightful in the intimate setting offered by El Paseo. The Santa Barbara High School Madrigal Singers sang songs from their holiday collection and magician Mark Collier performed tricks table side. Primetime Palminteri had the crowd laughing throughout the program, and after the program DJ Darla Bea provided the dance tunes.

The event raised funds for the museum’s children’s programs which serve about 3,000 students each year. With the goal of making history as relevant and engaging as possible, the K-6 programs include a visit to the museum’s signature exhibit, the Story of Santa Barbara. The visit also includes other exhibits or onsite activities about the various cultures that make up our history. Especially popular is the Haunted Mirror, an interactive, Alice Through the Looking Glass device to link the present with the past and future. The museum also offers research and conservation learning experiences for high school students.

The museum, at 136 East De La Guerra Street, receives no regular government funding so is dependent on the generosity of donors. Admission is free, donations are encouraged. For more information, go to

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By Gail Arnold

Board chair Sharon Bradford and her husband, David Bradford.

By Gail Arnold

Master of ceremonies KEYT’s John Palminteri with his raffle assistant, museum volunteer Sienna Valentine.

By Gail Arnold

Board member Betsy Joneszwick and Larry Dam.

By Gail Arnold

Guests enjoy dinner and the program.

By Gail Arnold

Trees with copies of thank you notes from children who visited the museum decorated the tables. The notes on this tree were from the 1960s.

By Gail Arnold

The Santa Barbara Festival Ballet performs.

By Gail Arnold

Board members Randy Fox and Eleanor Van Cott.

By Gail Arnold

Old Spanish Days La Presidenta for 2017 Rhonda Henderson and her husband, Ben Feld.

By Gail Arnold

Executive director Lynn Brittner, Scott Burns, and event chair extraordinaire Lisa Burns.

By Gail Arnold

Santa Barbara High School Madrigal Singers.

By Gail Arnold

Cabana Home’s holiday fantasy tree.

By Gail Arnold

Old Spanish Day’s holiday fantasy tree.

By Gail Arnold

Guests enjoy the cocktail hour.

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