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How Local Celebrities Celebrate the Holidays

Our region’s 72-degree winters and December sunshine don’t fit the postcard image of the holiday season, but that doesn’t keep us from creating their own unique ways of celebrating this time of year.


We asked some of our prominent residents to share their favorite holiday traditions, and learned about traditional food, one radio host’s must-play Christmas album and a special dinner for holiday “orphans.”


Marcella Lee, weekend anchor for CBS Channel 8

San Diego resident of nine years

My 6-year-old twins Kyla and Kaze love the Holiday Hayride at the Del Mar Holiday of Lights. We also make it a point to visit the ice rink by the beach at the Hotel del Coronado — where else can you skate by the sea? We head to Christmas Card Lane in Rancho Peñasquitos each year and slowly walk through the neighborhood, amazed at the beautiful display of lights and friendly competition between neighbors.


AJ Machado, host of “The AJ Show” at 103.7 FM

San Diego resident of 12 years

Like most kids, my brothers and I loved the holiday season. But there was one thing we dreaded: my mom’s Stevie Wonder Christmas album. As far as my mom was concerned, this was the only Christmas album anyone needed, and she played it loudly, often starting the day after Thanksgiving. I swore that one of the highlights of adulthood would be Decembers that were free of Stevie singing “Little Drummer Boy.” Of course, once I became an adult, it just didn’t seem like the holidays without it! And now my house is filled with the sounds of the album “Someday at Christmas” by Stevie Wonder every year. I’m sure my two young daughters will grow up resenting it. I’ll tell them to blame Grandma.


Keegan Gerhard, owner of D Bar Restaurant in Hillcrest

San Diego resident from 1988-93, moved away and now back

It’s probably no surprise that, for me, the holidays are all about the food! In this industry, it’s hard to get home for the holidays, so my wife and I love putting together an “orphan” dinner for all the industry people that stay back. But the perfect holiday tradition would be cooking a big meal for friends and family and sneaking off for a bike ride up the coast. I love that aspect of San Diego!


Catherine Garcia, NBC Channel 7 anchor

San Diego resident of 10 years

There are so many holiday traditions to look forward to each year! The ladies in my family get things started by making an enormous batch of tamales that we’ll all eat together Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, we always have dinner with my husband’s family, followed by midnight Mass. And then Christmas morning, a present-opening marathon at my parents’ house is followed by a journey around Southern California to see as many relatives as possible (and eat those tamales)!


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