Category Archives: Community

Fourth annual Santee Bluegrass Festival was a big hit

The sun sets over the 2013 Santee Bluegrass Festival

The sun sets over the 2013 Santee Bluegrass Festival

On Saturday, September 14, over 1000 people took part in the fourth annual Santee Bluegrass Festival. This event, which began as the Santee Wine and Bluegrass Festival, but has since expanded the offerings with local craft beers and plenty of food, helps to raise money for recreation services in Santee. It was a fun evening of music, food, wine and beer, and community. Box Canyon and The Tail Draggers provided the bluegrass and over two dozen wineries and breweries brought out samples. Over a dozen restaurants and caterers provided the food for the evening. For more about the festival, read my article in Santee Examiner.

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Santee Coffee Corner celebrates grand opening of second location

Cofffee Corner opens a second location

Duane and Suzie Parks cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of their second Coffee Corner location.

The popular Coffee Corner has opened up a second location in Santee Town Center near Home Depot and Chuze Fitness. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Friday morning, September 6, 2013, to celebrate. On hand were member of the Santee City Council, Santee Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the offices of U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, State Senator Joel Anderson and State Assemblyman Brian Jones.

For more detail, read my article on Santee Examiner.

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Santee Lakes Celebrate the Holidays

Santa Claus greets a young Santee resident during a previous Santa at the Lakes celebration

Santa Claus greets a young Santee resident during a previous Santa at the Lakes celebration

This weekend, December 8 and 9, will be full of holiday cheer and family fun at Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve. On Saturday the first annual Lighting at the Lakes will celebrate the season with the illumination of Santee’s tallest Christmas tree. On Sunday the annual Santa at the Lakes returns with the jolly old elf himself, along with games and activities for the whole family.

The Lighting at the Lakes is also an inauguration celebration for the newly-constructed pavilion at Lake One. The fun will begin at 4:00 p.m. and will include carolers, vendors and a parade of decorated carts. Refreshments will be provided by Coffee Corner, Sweet Treats and Two for the Road. Santee Santas will be on hand to collect donations of toys for needy families, and all guests are requested to bring an unwrapped gift.

The lighting is a joint effort of Santee Lakes Foundation, Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, San Diego State University and SDG&E. To help make this a green Christmas, solar panels will provide the energy for the lights on the tree and on the pavilion.

Sledding at the LakesEvery year Santa Claus visits Santee Lakes just before Christmas, bringing good cheer and a supply of snow for Southern California natives to enjoy. The day will be full of sledding, pony rides, hay rides, crafts and carnival rides. The celebration begins at 11:00 a.m. and runs until 4:00 p.m. Parking for the day is $5 and rides tickets are 50 cents each.

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve is located at 9310 Fanita Parkway, just south of Mast Blvd. For more information on either event, call 619-596-3141 or visit the Santee Lakes website.

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Santee Salutes Moves to Town Center Community Park East

The annual Santee Salutes July 4th celebration moves to a new home for 2012, but look for the same great family-friendly fun and marvelous fireworks. This year the event will take place at Town Center Community Park East, site of the weekly Summer Concert Series (which takes this week off for the Fourth). The fun officially begins at 3:30 p.m. and lasts until 9:30 p.m. following the evening’s fireworks show. Families looking for the best spot will probably want to arrive early to save the space.

This year a long-time favorite, 80z All Stars, will return to provide the musical entertainment. The 80z All Stars have performed at previous Santee Salutes celebrations, the Summer Concert Series and the Santee Street Fair. The day will also include carnival games and inflatables for the kids (and those young at heart) and traditional food booths. New this year will be a lineup of gourmet food trucks offering everything from old-fashioned barbecue to spicy Thai delicacies. For those who like to cool down during the day, the City of Santee Aquatics Center will offer free swimming from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

At 6:00 p.m. a patriotic ceremony will celebrate the true meaning of the Fourth of July. The ceremony will feature speakers and a color guard from the Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 (the “Heavy Haulers”) from Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar. The fireworks show begins at 9:00 p.m.

This year, to help defray some of the costs of the free event, the city will be charging a $5 fee for parking in surrounding lots, with limited preferred parking in the closest lot for $15. Handicapped parking in the preferred lot will be $5. There will be free parking with a shuttle at the Costco parking lot, beginning at 3:00 p.m. and lasting until 10:00 p.m. RV parking is also available in the Costco lot.

Another new addition is the ability to reserve a 10×10 canopy in a prime location for $100. This will allow you to enjoy the day and not have to worry about carrying chairs, tables, coolers and what-have-you a long distance from the parking lot. The fee includes preferred parking and spaces can be reserved online at www.ci.santee.ca.us.

Several area streets will have traffic limited to residents during the evening hours because of the celebration and fireworks. Bilteer Drive, Bilteer Court, San Remo Court, San Remo Drive, Conejo Place, Magnolia Park Drive, Cottonwood Avenue, Verde Vista Lane, Day Creek trail and Leavesly Trail will be closed except to residents.

Santee Salutes is presented by the City of Santee, with sponsorship from Waste Management and Cannon Pacific and donations from Lakeside Equipment Sales Inc, Bob’s Crane Service, Cottonwood Electric Cart Service and Rice RV. For more information, visit www.ci.santee.ca.us or call the Special Event Hotline at 619-258-4100 ext. 201.

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Fourth Annual Santee Street Fair to Honor Our Military Heroes

The wildly successful Santee Street Fair returns this Saturday, May 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. along Riverview Drive east of Santee Trolley Square. The family-friendly event is free and features hundreds of vendors, live bands, rides and games for the kids and plenty of food. This year, to help kick off the Memorial Day Weekend, the Santee Street Fair will honor our military heroes with a special ceremony.

The Santee Street Fair is the largest single-day festival in the East County, with over 40,000 people attending last year and even more expected this time. It is put on by the Santee Chamber of Commerce and the City of Santee as a way to promote the community throughout the greater San Diego region. Businesses from throughout Santee and around the county will be there to share information with visitors.

Santee’s own Clint August, from 101KGB, will act as master of ceremonies for the day, but there are rumors that a certain local pirate could drop in to commandeer the microphone at some point. Along with the Santee Chamber of  Commerce and the City of Santee, the Street Fair is supported by Padre Dam’s Santee Lakes, Barona Resort & Casino, AIR Santee, SDG&E, Union Bank, El Cajon Harley Davidson and many other companies and organizations.

The first Street Fair, in 2009, came together in only six months and showed what Santee could do when people who cared about the city put their minds together. Since then it has grown to a greatly-anticipated celebration that draws rave reviews every year. The 2012 edition will feature many of the same vendors and entertainment that people have enjoyed, with many new ones to discover.

New to the Main Stage this year will be Atomic Groove, billed as the best in variety dance bands. The group has been voted the Best Local Band in Ranch & Coast Magazine and in the Union-Tribune’s SignOn San Diego Readers’ Poll. Joining Atomic Groove from their popular shows last year will be Credence Relived, a Credence Clearwater Revival tribute band, and Liquid Blue, certified by the Guinness Book of Records as “The World’s Most Traveled Band.”

While the Street Fair is free, as is parking, be sure to bring plenty of money to enjoy all of the different foods that will be on hand. In the past the fare has ranged from Hawaiian shaved ice to hot dogs and hamburgers and top-notch barbecue. This year the beer garden will feature Santee’s own Manzanitza Brewing Company, which will soon celebrate their second anniversary with a move to a new, larger facility.

Read about the 2011 Santee Street Fair on Santee Examiner

Read about the 2010 Santee Street Fair on Santee Examiner and Scouting Santee

Read about the 2009 Santee Street Fair on Scouting Santee

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Fox’s Pizza Den to Hold Third Fundraiser

Fox’s Pizza Den will hold their third pizza fundraiser of the 2011-2012 school year for Chet F. Harritt School on Thursday, March 29. The restaurant will donate 20% of net sales from all purchases to the school. This applies to both dine-in and take-out orders. If you want to call in your order to 619-749-4165, just be sure to tell them you heard about the fundraiser and want to do your part to help. So far Fox’s Pizza Den has donated about $600 this year alone.

In their first pizza fundraiser Fox’s was able to donate over $200 to help the school with those little extras that always seem to come up. While that may not sound like a lot of money, when you consider the average order you see that quite a few pizzas were sold just on that one day.

More than just helping the school, by taking part in this fundraiser you will be helping a local business stay in business during these tough times. Over the past year Santee has lost several restaurants, and while a few new ones have opened – or will soon – it is important to keep the ones that are already here. Every small business means a few more people employed, a few more dollars moving through the community and one less empty store front along the road.

So once again, “Thank You” to Fox’s Pizza Den for being a great member of the Santee community, and “Thank You” to all who participate in this fundraiser.

 

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Santee Residents Brave Rain for SanTree Fest

Cold, wind and the threat of rain couldn’t stop over 200 enthusiastic residents from coming out on Saturday, March 17, for the seventh annual SanTree Fest, held this year at Town Center Community Park. Nearly two dozen businesses and community groups manned booths with everything from health and nutrition to environmental awareness. While the weather forced the cancellation of some events and activities, there was still plenty for people to enjoy.

SanTree Fest is part Arbor Day, part Earth Day and a tribute to Santee’s continued status as a Tree City USA for the city’s commitment to having a well-planted community. In previous years the celebration has done landscaping at Cajon Park School and done planting and cleanup in Mast Park. This year’s projects included planting 40 trees in the green spaces around the Cameron Family YMCA and the creation of a “rock creek” to enhance the visual appeal of the area.

With the looming threat of heavy rain, tree planting was done immediately, with volunteers grabbing shovels and potted trees and heading out to pre-determined locations. In no time at all the trees were in the ground and volunteers were moving on to other activities. Many chose to help lay rocks for the new landscape feature, a sinuous pathway of large river rocks dotted with several small plants.

“It was super fun,” said one young participant from Pride Academy who helped with both the planting and the rock projects. “I’m in a group at school called Club Live, and this was a project we could work on.”

For those willing to get even more “down and dirty,” the Friends of Santee’s River Park and the city of Santee Community Services Department organized a cleanup of the nearby Woodglen Vista Creek which runs through a section of the park. This small tributary to the San Diego River received a much-needed clearing to prevent debris from being washed down into the river and then to the ocean. Among the hundreds of pieces of trash removed were an old tire and a shopping cart. Storm water will now flow more easily with less flooding.

Shannon Quigley-Raymond of the Friends of Santee’s River Park was on hand to share the group’s message with visitors to SanTree Fest and to encourage participation in future events. The Friends of Santee’s River Park is a chapter of the larger San Diego River Park Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the county’s namesake waterway. April will feature RiverBlitz – a survey of the San Diego River through Santee to identify problem areas – and an Earth Day clean up at Big Rock Park on the west side of the city. More information about the groups is available on their websites (see links above).

Another environmental group on hand was the San Diego Regional Urban Forest Council, an organization made up of a variety of public and private entities. The SDRUFC advocates for a variety of projects such as San Diego County’s Cool Communities Shade Tree Program and provides information about grants and public education initiatives. SDRUFC members Delia Juncal and Mike Palat were there to answer questions and provide information, including a handout on Water-Wise Tree Care for the San Diego Region.

While the turnout was not as large as previous years, Santee’s Special Events Supervisor Cherie Meek was still pleased with the results. “We probably had at least 200 people out here,” she said, “even with the weather.”

For more information about events in Santee, visit the City of Santee website.

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Cajon Park School holds Health and Fitness Fair

Running cones, tossing a medicine ball, shooting baskets and dribbling a soccer ball are not normally part of the middle school curriculum, but for students at Cajon Park School these were just some of the activities during the first Health and Fitness Fair. The event was just part of a month-long focus on health and fitness at the school connected with the NFL Play 60 Program that kicked off throughout the district in January. That program focuses on encouraging children to commit to at least 60 minutes of activity every day as a way to work toward a healthier lifestyle.

The Health and Fitness Fair was designed and organized by Cajon Park Vice Principal Suzanne Martin, with help from the district’s Wellness Committee. Activities included soccer drills with members of the San Diego Sockers indoor soccer team, a mini obstacle course with trainers from Chuze Fitness, basketball skills with representatives from Santee’s Teen Center and presentations on nutrition by a district nurse and a nutritionist.

“This is something we have designed in collaboration with the NFL Play 60 Program activities, in that we want our students to be active 60 minutes a day,” Vice Principal Martin explained. “We’re encouraging our kids in grades 6 through 8 to be involved, so for the past three weeks they have been monitoring their own activity in journals. We want them to get 60 minutes of activity at recess time, PE time or even at home. Today is actually an entire fair that we have dedicated to health and fitness.”

Joe Spencer, a parent and a member of the Santee School District Wellness Committee, helped to organize the NFL Play 60 Program in the district. “We wanted to have events at each school, so Ms. Martin decided she wanted to have a mini-health fair. I had talked with former Charger Vencie Glenn from the beginning. He’s a motivational speaker who goes out and speaks with kids, and he said he wanted to be part. I also reached out to the San Diego Sockers and John Kentera and he wanted to be a part, so he got Aaron Susi and Eduardo Velez to come out here.”

Each of the three physical activity stations ran approximately 15 minutes and included a short talk about health and nutrition from the presenters. At the soccer station Sockers stars Aaron Susi and Eduardo Velez took each group through a series of basic dribbling skills and footwork. After the students had the chance to try their feet at the activity, Susi talked to them about the importance of making good choices in food. After that the two signed autographs on whatever students had handy, including T-shirts, arms and even one cast.

“It’s always good to give back to the kids,” said Susi between groups. “These are the things that made me look up to soccer players and other athletes when I was younger in school, seeing them come and work with us and teach about being healthy. It’s good that I can do the same for these kids. We talked to them a little about eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle, and we’re teaching them some basic dribbling skills.”

Velez, who tends to let his flashy play on the field speak for him, said, “It’s always great being out with the kids. I love having the opportunity. I love to play around with the kids and have fun with them. We’re talking with them about being healthy and eating healthy food.”

At the basketball station Jeff Eidson and Ryan Bozelle from the Teen Center showed the students basic passing and dribbling skills before letting them try shooting baskets. Between groups the two talked about the role of the Teen Center in the community and what they hoped to bring to the students at the Health and Fitness Fair.

“The Teen Center is located at Lake 5 at Santee Lakes and has been around for eleven years now,” Eidson explained. “It’s an after-school program that caters to sixth through twelfth grade students. We take the kids fishing or out on the paddle boats. They can play pool or just hang out with their friends. It’s a safe place for them and their parents know where they are.”

“About once a week we’re at a different school talking about the Teen Center and what we do,” Eidson continued. “We have a dance called the Friday Night Hot Spot at City Hall once each month, usually on the last Friday. It’s just another thing we do to help keep the kids out of trouble and keep them active and having fun.”

One of the more interesting stations was the Chuze Fitness obstacle course. Students took turns in groups tossing heavy medicine balls, doing shuttle-steps between cones, jumping rope for several minutes, or making their way through hoop runs. A great deal of laughter accompanied the activities, led by trainers Brandon Decker and Kim Assino.

“We’re out her trying to show these kids better ways to work out and to give them different ideas and exercises,” said Decker. “We just want to show them good ways to keep their heart rate going and keep in shape. Different things they can do when they are outside, having fun with a partner or by themselves. The kids seem to be having a lot of fun, and they are getting a pretty good workout at the same time.”

Cajon Park middle school teachers had an easy time of it, shepherding their groups from station to station and then watching the fun. Allsyn Gazi, a math and science teacher, was with her group at the Chuze Fitness station. “This all has to do with heart health awareness and physical fitness,” she explained. “It’s a change from the normal day in and day out PE. With the program they kids are keeping track of their movement each day and they are finding out just how much exercise they actually do in a day. Sometimes it’s more than they realize, other times they see how much more they should be doing.”

John Beacom, a middle school history teacher, pointed out the importance of having the professional athletes and trainers involved. “It means a lot to these kids to see the real professionals who make a living by leading healthy lifestyles, eating right and doing the right things to keep themselves in shape,” he said. “Many of these kids dream about being professionals, either basketball, soccer, football, even cheerleading. These professionals are reinforcing ideas that, hopefully, will help these kids reach their goals.”

For the Cajon Park students who took part in the Health and Fitness Fair, it was all about the fun. Seventh-grade student Janae, who hopes to play softball in high school, enjoyed the soccer station, but admitted, “It was kind of hard. You definitely have to have the right shoes to do it and I didn’t. I don’t usually play soccer, but it was fun. It was cool seeing the two Sockers players; they were really good and definitely professional.”

“It’s been an amazing experience,” said seventh grader Justin. “I had no clue that San Diego had an indoor soccer team. I used to play goalie with AYSO Lakeside’s Gravediggers.”

Asked about how the Play 60 Program has affected him over the past month, Justin confirmed he had seen some definite improvement in the amount of activity he was involved in. Janae agreed that the month-long focus had made a difference, although she admitted, “It’s hard to eat good things every day with all the tempting fast food.”

While the Play 60 Program is a good start, it will be up to the students and their parents and teachers to continue the good habits that have been started. Health is not a one-day or even a one-month activity, but a conscious choice each and every day for a lifetime.

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Santa Visits Coffee Corner for Story Time

Not a mouse was in sight, and children were definitely not snuggled in their beds on Saturday, December 3, as Santa arrived at Coffee Corner in Santee to read stories and share the holiday spirit. Santa’s elves, who double as the coffee shop’s baristas during the regular year, were on hand to help with the fun. About 15 boys and girls and about two dozen adults gathered to kick off the Christmas season.

The Santa reading event was the brainchild of Santee resident and radio host (101 KGB FM) Clint August as a way to benefit both the community and his favorite coffee shop. “I started it with Duane Parks (owner of Coffee Corner) because I love seeing children get in the spirit of Christmas and I love the coffee shop. I figured it’s such a great, intimate location to have families come from Santee. They can see their children smile while meeting Santa.”

Before Santa’s “arrival,” the barista elves entertained the children, clowning around and pretending they were unable to find where the jolly old elf was. When he did appear, Santa explained that before he read the stories they had to light the decorated tree at the shop. He then went around and had each child touch a tree-topper star to start the “magic” needed to light the tree when it was put in place.

This year families were asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Santee Santas, a local organization that provides food and presents to needy families during the holiday season. In addition to the toys, food and nearly $100 were donated to help make the season a little brighter for some local families.

Photographer Penny Wilkinson was on hand taking pictures of the kids as they perched on Santa’s lap and shared their Christmas lists. According to August, the crowd was about one-third larger than the previous year. Asked about plans for the future, he said Santa would be returning every year for the foreseeable future. “I’d love to get my boys as Santa’s helpers one day,” August indicated. “Certainly all of the elves that were there last night would be great to have again. They were fantastic.”

Coffee Corner owner Parks later posted his appreciation on his Facebook page: “thank you to everyone who stopped by The Coffee Corner last night to visit with Santa…. It was truly a magical night… Many toys, food and nearly $100 were all donated to a local (Santee Santa’s). Thanks to Santa for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit with our kids, and thanks to his lovely elves who kept us organized and entertained (you girls are great elves, and Awesome Baristas too. Special thanks Penny Wilkinson and Chris Carmichael for capturing the evening on camera. God is good!”

For anyone who missed the event and would like to help Santee Santas, you can visit their website to find out more information.

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Santee Santas Need Your Help

(L-R) Laura Plante, Sam Modica and Vicki Cecil of Santee Santas at the Santee Car Show

The following is a press release from Santee Santas explaining the great need they have for help this holiday season. I have written about the Santas before, and I encourage readers to get involved with the group, even if it is just a small donation.

Santee Santas Prepare for High Demand this Holiday Season
As the economic downturn continues, Santee Santas brace for high demand; Seek help from local businesses and residents

SANTEE, CA, November 8, 2011 (For Immediate Release) – As the holiday season begins to pick up steam, the Santee Santas are already in full swing of their holiday preparations to ensure that every Santee resident enjoys some holiday cheer.

Santee Santas is an all-volunteer, non-profit, organization bringing comfort and joy to Santee residents by providing food and gifts, especially during the holiday season.  Each family who receives assistance is able to get a holiday meal and enough staples to last a few weeks. Each child receives toys or gift cards depending on their age as well as books.

“With the current state of the economy, we are anticipating even greater demands this year than we saw in 2010,” says Gail Ramer, Vice Chairman of Santee Santas. “When you add to this fact that so many local businesses are suffering, we are hoping that those who are able, will step up and help us meet the needs of so many hurting Santee residents.”

For those who can help, donations of new unwrapped toys and books, as well as non-perishable food items, are currently being accepted at over 30 drop box locations throughout Santee. Cash donations are also always encouraged.  Cash donations can be mailed to Santee Santas Foundation, P.O. Box 710033, Santee, CA 92072-0033 or through PayPal via the Santee Santas Website.

For those in need, applications will be accepted on Saturday, November 12, 2011 from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm at Santee City Hall at 10601 N. Magnolia, Building 8.  Applications will also be accepted on November 16 from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm and November 29 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Santee Fire Station #4 at 8950 Cottonwood Avenue.  Blank applications are available at all Santee School Offices, Santee Chamber of Commerce, the Santee Library or by visiting www.santeesantas.org.
Santee Santas has been bringing the spirit of the holidays to the Santee Community for more than fifty years.  In 2010, Santee Santas assisted 203 families, including 397 children and delivered 150 flower arrangements to seniors at mobile home parks and 100 Stuffed animals were given to residents at Stanford Court Nursing Home.

For more information about Santee Santas, including a complete list of toy and food drop-off locations, or to make a donation online, please visit www.santeesantas.org.

Thank You Santee!

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