San Rafael’s seasonal festival thrives, even without snow

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The snow sledding hill at the 50th San Rafael Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland festival dried up due to a shortfall in funding, but that did not deter residents from coming out to enjoy food, rides and time with each other.

“We like to come out here every year because he likes to sled,” Sasha DeJesus said as she held her 4-year-old son Lucas’ hand. “But this year there is no snow. He was sad because we’ve been talking about it all week, but I’ve never seen as many rides and games here before.”

Festival organizers with Steven Restivo Event Services handed out flyers explaining why they could not create the snowy hill for children to sled down. The company cited the withdrawal of state redevelopment money and corporate funding.

The cost to bring the snow to downtown San Rafael costs $15,000. The organizers of the event are raising funds to bring the snow back to the festival for 2020.

Fourth Street from Lootens Place to B Street was lined with rows of vendors, carnival games and rides as families, couples and friends meandered through the brisk air filled with aromas coming off food stands.

Lucky Pop Kettle Corn has been one of the longtime vendors at the event, serving folks flavored popcorn for eight years in a row.

“It’s a family-first environment,” Sofia Kraft said as she poured out a fresh batch of kettle corn. “Everyone is excited to be here and check out all the shopping, activities for kids and the snacks of course.”

Jane and Kiyash Monsef of Mill Valley watched as their two children slid down a large plastic slide, which was the replacement for the hill of snow that usually engulfs A Street.

Jane Monsef said this is their first time attending the festival and they found out the snowy hill was canceled after they had already told their kids they were going.

She said the lack of a snowy hill did not take away from their family plans to walk off the Thanksgiving dinner they had the night before and buy ornaments for their Christmas tree.

“It’s nice and calm compared to the county fair,” Jane Monsef said. “It’s very chill and easy to stroll in. It’s a lot of fun and cozy.”


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