Sunny Santas and festive floats coming to Pacific Beach to ring in the holiday season

Santa Claus was given a ride through the 2021 parade by the crew at Fire Station No. 21.
(Milan Kovacevic)

Activities planned for Dec. 3 and 10


Grab some hot chocolate, stake out a spot along Garnet Avenue and bring your holiday spirit to kick off this year’s holiday festivities in Pacific Beach.

The community is ramping up for the holidays by celebrating big with three events — the annual tree lighting on Crystal Pier, the “Santa Run” and the holiday parade.

Gather ‘round for the Christmas tree lighting on Crystal Pier

Festive wreaths, Christmas lights and a decked-out tree will be transforming PB’s Crystal Pier into a winter wonderland.

From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 Crystal Pier will welcome visitors to stroll and enjoy a festive scene. This free event is sponsored by Discover Pacific Beach and coordinated through the Crystal Pier Hotel & Cottages.

The Pacific Beach Woman's Club is among many organizations that has decorated Crystal Pier with a holiday wreath.
(Milan Kovacevic)

According to Sunny Lee, Discover PB’s executive director, this annual tradition will feature wreaths that are locally sponsored by businesses, free hot chocolate for the first 100 people, singing carolers and the annual tree lighting.

Lee said this year organizers are also adding a new way to get involved and give back to the community. Toys for Tots will be accepting toy donations throughout the day.

Crystal Pier is at 4500 Ocean Blvd.

Lace up your tennis shoes and bring your Santa game face

The annual “Santa Run” is celebrating its 10th year in running at Pacific Beach. The Saturday, Dec. 10, event features three races: the 5K “Santa Run,” the kid’s mile “Santa’s Elves Run” and the pet-friendly mile-long “Santa’s Helpers Run.”

Since 2013, the event has welcomed people of all ages to participate in walking or running the 5K or mile, which starts at 912 Garnet Ave., according Eric Marenburg, chief running officer and co-founder of PB-based San Diego Running Co.

The “Santa Run” has grown from 400 entrants in year one to an expected 5,000 entrants this year, Marenburg said.

Santa Run 5K participants don “sunny” Santa attire for the race, an outfit included with the entry fee.

Nine years ago, organizers broadened the route accessibility through a partnership with Team Hoyt, a nonprofit organization that advocates for inclusivity and helps people who have disabilities. Team Hoyt and another nonprofit organization, Ainsley’s Angels, brings wheelchairs that participants with physical disabilities can use to participate in the run.

“Team Hoyt along with Ainsley’s Angels will kick off the 5K,” Marenburg said. “Their entire group will go off first. We’ve always been proud to support them and have that inclusivity approach.”

For the first time, optional fundraising opportunities have been added to the registration process so people can donate to Team Hoyt. According to Marenburg, more than $1,000 was raised for the organization as of mid-November.

Registration is open at and will remain available till the day of the event, according to Marenburg. However, spots are on a first-come, first-serve basis and last year they sold out prior to the event.

The $45 registration fee for the “Santa Run” covers a “Sunny Santa” outfit. It consists of a T-shirt, shorts, sunglasses and a Santa beard. Participants will also receive a timing chip, bib and drink ticket to one of the three post-race partner bars: Mavericks, Bub’s or 710 Beach Club.

The $30 registration fees for the “Santa’s Elves Run” and “Santa’s Helpers Run” include a Santa hat, sunglasses and a finisher medal for kids. These fees go back into supporting the “Santa Run” event and the holiday parade.

The 1-mile Santa’s Little Helper run/walk is for dogs (often decked out in holiday attire) and their owners.

From pet owners to parents, Marenburg said there’s fun opportunities for all.

“One of the things that’s been a highlight is that it really has become an event that has a little bit of something for everyone,” Marenburg said. “It’s something that can support all ages. There’s so much in PB that’s offered for all ages that we want to showcase.”

The 5K will start at 9 a.m. The kid’s mile is scheduled for 11 a.m. and the pet-friendly mile is at 11:30 a.m.

There will be a vendor village where participants can redeem their drink tickets after their race as well as peruse apparel and wellness vendors. The event rolls right into the holiday parade which starts at noon.

For those not in the running spirit, Marenburg said non-runners are encouraged to cheer on the athletes from the sidelines. He recommends snagging a seat at a restaurant or bar with outdoor seating along Garnet Avenue to watch the “Santa’s Helpers Run” and the parade.

“It’s the cutest thing,” Marenburg said. “It’s the last event before the parade. It almost becomes the unofficial parade as is. The dogs dress up to the nines often. It’s a fun tradition.”

Wave to Santa and community floats at the 42nd annual Pacific Beach Holiday Parade

From Mission Bay High School’s marching band to the Model A Club, a variety of crowd favorites will be back in the parade this year.

According to Lee, as of mid-November there was already 30 registered groups planning to show off their festive flair with a range of themes from Christmas decorations to surfboards.

“You name it. Whatever you’re used to seeing in PB you’re going to see put there in the parade,” Lee said.

From noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, floats, marchers and dancers will promenade the streets of PB starting at the intersection of Cass Street and Garnet Avenue.

Linda Rosas with her dog, Winnie, in their Pacific Beach Holiday Parade entry with the PB Golf Cart Gang.
(Milan Kovacevic)

Karl Jaedtke will return as the parade announcer and will be accompanied by a panel of judges to award honors to entrants in certain categories like best float. They will be located at the parade’s start.

The celebrity guest concluding the parade will be the same as last year, according to Lee.

“My favorite part is Santa,” Lee said. “Everybody gets excited; it’s the end of the parade. You get to wave to Santa.”

Participant registration will be open up until a few days before the parade, according to Lee.

The fee is $75 for Pacific Beach businesses, $150 for San Diego businesses and $35 for nonprofit organizations and community groups. Register at

Lee recommends that parade onlookers support local business while enjoying the floats and other entrants from prime viewpoints.

The Grinch drove a San Diego Model A Ford Club entry in the 2021 Pacific Beach Holiday Parade.
(Milan Kovacevic)

“From Haines to Cass, if you find a business with outdoor sitting, that’s the best place,” Lee said. “You can enjoy some snacks, order some food and hangout.”

The running routes and parade will stop all traffic access to Garnet Avenue and Cass Street. To plan accordingly for parking, visit