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 santabarbaramuseum.org.
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