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On the Town with Jason Downs

| Entertainment | November 26, 2019

Greetings fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town! As we continue to heal as a community it is sometimes beneficial to get out and about…and there is certainly a lot happening in the area to provide fellowship and entertainment during this difficult time.

Here’s what I got up to this week: Songs for Saugus at Vincenzo’s Pizza, a live television broadcast of the Main Street Tree-Lighting, and a Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern fest at LA Arboretum.

Not many things can lift my spirit the way music can. Music is one of the most mysterious and powerful forces on earth, in my opinion. And let me tell you, the healing power of young voices and budding talent could be found in abundance at Vincenzo’s on Thursday night for Valencia High School’s benefit jazz concert in support of Saugus victims and their families. The highly capable and instantly likable band director, Emilio Terranova, invited students from the entire Hart District to take to the bandstand, and they did with heartfelt vigor. Folks from all over Santa Clarita showed up in droves and packed the pizza joint to the gills. It’s possible there were more saxophones on stage than there were slices of pizza on plates, but here’s the thing: They sounded great. We have some seriously talented kids to be proud of in this town. Whether they were playing old standards or improvising a solo there was unbridled delight and impressive precision across the board.

The result was a cleansing sense of fellowship and community, not just on the earnest faces of those singing or playing instruments but also on the faces of everyone listening. “It’s our hope that we can both raise money for our friends at Saugus and bring some much needed joy to our community,” Terranova said.

Mission accomplished, my friend.

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A couple days later found us once again among our friends and neighbors for the annual ‘Light Up Main Street’ holiday celebration in Old Town Newhall. Wow, was it packed and wow, did they have a lot to see and do. Not to mention an appearance by the big guy himself: Santa Claus! Another ‘big guy’ in the SCV honored Saugus and our community by hosting the evening, KTLA’s morning co-anchor Chris Schauble. Wanting to show just how strong our Santa Clarita residents are, he went live with the evening news as Mayor Marsha McLean switched on the beautiful tree covered in thousands of lights and the crowd sent up a deafening cheer. Atop the tree was a Saugus Star.

The Los Angeles Arboretum is worth a visit any time of year, but if you’re looking for an incredible distraction from reality then GO NOW! The Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern Art Festival is more spectacular than I could possibly do justice using a few paltry words. We walked through the belly of a great white shark the size of an 18-wheeler as it spiraled with ever changing colored lights. We walked through a zoo of exotic plants and animals (tigers, pandas, cherry blossoms). The theme was all things China so the celebration of lights covered everything from Asian elephants to classic Chinese architecture to peacocks, food and live music. Traditional performers in full costume even danced and sang on the central stage. The overall effect was nothing short of magical.

Although it was quite difficult to narrow down, my favorite works of art were a mystical boabab tree surrounded by gazing deer, a flock of giant monarch butterflies all clustered with wings flapping and colors morphing, and a sea of pink stars and planets covering the forest floor surrounding a glittering moon. Simply gorgeous. Feast your eyes (although these pictures do nothing to capture the sheer size and beauty of the display).

So, there it is for this week, friends. Always feel free to let me know what you like doing around town so I can check it out and write it up. (reachjasondowns@santaclaritagazette.com)

Until next time, bon voyage, break a leg, and bon appetit!

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