Pacific Beach is ready for the holidays

People take photos of Pacific Beach's Crystal Pier with a Christmas tree at the end of it at sunset in December 2019.

Discover Pacific Beach has not given up on its plans to celebrate the holidays — and small businesses — in 2020.


The holiday spirit is alive and well in Pacific Beach.

True, a lot of things will be different this year. Festive floats, marching bands, color guards and other community groups will not be marching down Garnet Avenue in the Pacific Beach Holiday Parade. The event has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the San Diego Santa Run, which usually brings 4,000 runners dressed as Santa Claus to Garnet Avenue, has had to pivot. Rather than canceling, however, San Diego Running Co. organizers turned the event virtual.

Instead of running in a sea of Santas, participants can tackle the 5K challenge on their own anytime between Dec. 12 and 25. All runners will receive a race packet with swag including a Santa suit, sunglasses and a custom bib, with optional candy cane socks available for purchase. Registration is available at

Last year's San Diego Santa Run was held in Pacific Beach on Dec. 14.
Last year’s San Diego Santa Run was held in Pacific Beach on Dec. 14. This year, participants can complete the race on their own Dec. 12-25.

Other traditions in Pacific Beach will return, including the annual Christmas on Crystal Pier.

In collaboration with Crystal Pier Hotel & Cottages and The Big Josh Foundation, Discover Pacific Beach — the local business improvement district — will again decorate the pier with Christmas lights and wreaths, as well as a large tree placed at the end of the pier. (Pictures with Santa have been canceled due to COVID-19.)

Executive Director Sara Berns said Discover PB hopes the sight will draw more visitors to the area for some socially distanced holiday cheer. In addition to providing holiday decor, the wreaths aim to provide Pacific Beach businesses with more exposure.

Discover PB is offering more than 30 wreaths for local retailers and restaurants to purchase for $20 each. Each business decorates its wreath, which will receive prime placement along the pier from Dec. 5 through the end of the month.

A wreath decorated by Pacific Beach clothing store Lotus and Luna.

Fifteen to 20 businesses are expected to participate in a window decorating contest the weekend of Dec. 4, with the theme “Spending the holidays separate but together.” On Dec. 7, Discover PB will judge each window’s creativity and adherence to the theme.

California Sock Co., an apparel business whose flagship location is on Garnet Avenue, is taking part in the wreaths and window decorating contest. Company founder and Chief Executive Bernard Lebel said his shop has been involved with Pacific Beach’s holiday festivities since it opened five years ago.

“For us, we go corny Christmas,” Lebel said of his shop’s decorating plans. “We have a lot of punny stuff in the window to make you laugh ... our whole store is just a funny joke, really. We transpose that directly into Christmas, for sure.”

“I do think the window decorating competition is just a fun family thing to go do,” Lebel added. “Just stroll Garnet, stroll the main Mission Boulevard and just look at the windows and see what people do. My wife and I do it every year; it’s similar to a restaurant tasting.”

Though Lebel is disappointed about the cancellation of the Holiday Parade, which often brings a lot of foot traffic, he hopes the community will still come out to Garnet Avenue for socially distanced shopping and dining, attracted by the window decorations or Discover Pacific Beach’s Shop Local Discount Card.

The discount card features a dozen businesses that are offering deals for the holiday season. Cards were widely distributed to residents in late November.

“We really hope people understand that if they see [the discounts] in one spot that there could be a good day of shopping in PB that can knock off some of your list,” Berns said.

Mimi & Red, a business on the discount card, is new to the neighborhood and holiday festivities. After 13 years in La Jolla, the boutique moved to Cass Street in Pacific Beach in March. Mimi & Red also had a location in North Park, but it shuttered in June because of the pandemic.

The boutique also has been part of “Shop Small at the Market.” For the holidays, Discover Pacific Beach has opened a section of the weekly Pacific Beach Farmers Market to a handful of businesses through Dec. 15.

“[Shop Small at the Market] was really fun — everyone was so nice,” Mimi & Red co-owner Rhondda Begley said. “I felt like the turnout [Nov. 17] was better than expected … there were people there consistently. We were placed right by the entrance, so that helped.”

Begley said shoppers must be socially distanced and cannot touch the items in the booths. Though the no-touch rule made it a little awkward for her to sell Mimi & Red’s clothing and accessories, she said the experience was worth it and that she looks forward to returning Dec. 8.

The Farmers Market is open from 3 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday.

As for the rest of Pacific Beach, shoppers can find an updated list of open businesses at

“We want to remind people that you can still get out and walk social distancing around our business district and get some great deals,” Berns said.

For those who prefer to avoid crowds this holiday shopping season, Berns encourages using local businesses’ delivery, curbside pickup or online services.

“They live in Pacific Beach, they work in Pacific Beach, they employ Pacific Beach residents,” she said. “And it’s really important to support them through the holiday season.”