December Nights returns as drive-thru event for second year
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The December 9th celebration takes place in bell ball park this weekend. But just like last year, the event will be an in-car drive-through experience with food vendors and entertainment that drive through decision might've seemed like an overabundance of caution a couple of weeks ago, but now with the new Omicron variant, it seems like a wise choice that tastes of December nights events starts tomorrow. And it's happening through Sunday in the inspiration point, parking lots near Belle boa park. And joining me is the city of San Diego special events and filming department, executive director, Natasha Collura, and Natasha. Welcome. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (00:39)
Speaker 1: (00:40)
You explain how this drive-through version of December nights will work?
Speaker 2: (00:44)
Absolutely. People will be coming in through inspiration point way off of park Boulevard. They'll drive through, they'll get their map, which has a list of all the vendors and their menu items. So we'll have a chance to take a look and see where they want to stop at and what they'd like to eat. And they can go through the various vendors and decide if they want to try a different vendor. There's a passing light in our main lot. They can jump in that passing lane and then head over to the vendor that they would like to order from. So there's a little bit of something for, for everyone.
Speaker 1: (01:16)
And do people stay in their cars to order the
Speaker 2: (01:18)
Food? Yes, people will be staying in their vehicles, uh, for everybody's safety and hopefully to keep everybody moving through the event and to get to as many locations as possible. But it is a drive-thru. There is an option though, a very limited option for those who do not have access to a vehicle. Uh, we do have electric carts that will be driving through and people can queue up and wait for a cart. We'll have about three to four available. Again, it's a limited opportunity, but we did want to offer an option for those without vehicles. What
Speaker 1: (01:50)
Other kinds of safety precautions are in place?
Speaker 2: (01:53)
The drive-through is designed to keep everybody safe and, uh, tell, eliminate the crowds and the interactions between all the individuals. As you know, our traditional December nights is 350,000 people over two days. And this is something that again, is designed to keep people safe and then their vehicles and being able to move through, uh, in the safety of their cars.
Speaker 1: (02:14)
No, I checked out the taste of December nights website and you certainly have a lot of food. Can you give us an idea of the range of tastes that are available?
Speaker 2: (02:23)
Absolutely. So we have amazing fade. We have Kenyan food, we have Cajun food next again, food, you know, for, for little ones, maybe we have the corn dogs. We have, um, Blasian food. There really is something for everybody. And we also have the international cottages from Bebo park who have home-baked goods from all around the world.
Speaker 1: (02:45)
Now there's also entertainment. How does that work?
Speaker 2: (02:48)
We have a state located in the middle and there's a list of the entertainment schedule for when there'll be appearing during the event. It's on the website, San diego.gov/tastes of December nights. And so you can check up the schedule and you'll be able to hear a little bit of entertainment as you drive through
Speaker 1: (03:05)
And who are some of the performers?
Speaker 2: (03:07)
So we have a variety of performers. We have dancers, we have singers, we have a whole list of performers that you can find on our website and can check out and see, uh, hopefully you'll be able to view them as you drive by.
Speaker 1: (03:20)
This is the second year for the drive-through taste of December nights at bell boa park. How popular was it last?
Speaker 2: (03:27)
It was very successful. Last year, we had over 4,000 cars over the three-day period, but we have redesigned the format to get even more vehicles through more quickly and be able to experience more of the food vendors and the variety that we have available.
Speaker 1: (03:42)
And what are you expecting this weekend?
Speaker 2: (03:44)
We expect it to be another successful event. Uh, the first 500 cars a day will receive a goodie bag with some fun items, like a bike light from SANDAG, a reusable straw from think Ballou. And everybody gets a bag. We'll get a free ice cream coupon at handles homemade ice cream in Pacific beach. So we are expecting to be a great event and we hope to see everybody there are you concerned?
Speaker 1: (04:07)
I learned at all that the concern about the new variant will keep people away.
Speaker 2: (04:12)
We have actually been in contact with county public health, and again, uh, you know, the same precautions that have been in place for COVID are still in place. Um, so we do encourage everyone to be safe. We're being saved by having this drive through event. So we feel that this is actually a great opportunity for those who are concerned, who want to remain, uh, cautious, that this is an alternative to perhaps other events, um, because it keeps them safe in their vehicles and provides them an opportunity to get out and celebrate the holidays.
Speaker 1: (04:43)
Now, people can also give back and support charities during the taste of December nights. Tell us about the collection drives.
Speaker 2: (04:50)
We are very excited to have the charitable giving elements included this year. So one of the elements is a change for change opportunity so that if you have any spare change, we want you to donate that we're trying to collect a thousand pounds of change to help homeless youth in San Diego, through the YMCAs community support services. We also are asking for food donations for the San Diego food bank, and we'd love for people to bring those soapies carwash. We'll thank you with a free magic joke carwash card while supplies last. So please bring those canned goods. And lastly, we do have a socks and underwear drive that, uh, we would love for people to bring new socks and underwear to donate to father Joe's villages for those experiencing homelessness.
Speaker 1: (05:34)
Now December nights has been a tradition in Balboa park for more than 40 years. And of course, taste of December nights has been adapted to keep that tradition going. How do you see the future for the December nights event? Has the city learned anything new by changing it? Because of COVID.
Speaker 2: (05:51)
We are hopeful that we can return back to our traditional December nights in 2022. And of course we are ready to adapt as needed depending on the conditions next year. Um, but we are hopeful that we can return back to our events, but we will continue to be aware of any opportunities and protocols and ways to mitigate any type of health risks. And we're ready to handle that. If it comes up, we are looking at ways for the entire community to be able to come to December nights and looking at access opportunities for those that may not have a vehicle to drive down and want to ride their bike or take public transportation. So we want to definitely expand our access and our mobility options for next year as well. So that is something that has come out of this pandemic is how can we do more for this particular event in the future?
Speaker 1: (06:41)
1st of December nights takes place this Friday through Sunday from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM in the inspiration point, parking lots near Bel boa park. And I have been speaking with Natasha Collara executive director of the city of San Diego, special events and filming department. Natasha. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (06:59)
Thank you so much.
A yearly San Diego holiday tradition is again being altered due to the pandemic and the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. The Balboa Park December Nights festival is returning as Taste of December Nights for the second year in a row. Just like last year, the event will be an in-car, drive-thru experience, with food vendors, food trucks and entertainment.
The city of San Diego special events and filming department executive director, Natasha Collura spoke with KPBS Midday Edition about why the city decided to continue the event as a drive-thru experience again this year.
"The drive-thru is designed to keep everybody safe and to eliminate the crowds and the interactions between all the individuals," Collura said.
Collura said the event was designed around the county's public health COVID-19 safety guidelines.
"We feel that this is actually a great opportunity for those who are concerned and who want to remain cautious," Collura said. "This is an alternative to perhaps other events because it keeps them safe in their vehicles and provides them an opportunity to get out and celebrate the holidays."
Collura said the traditional December Nights festival usually brings in around 350,000 people over two days, so the drive-thru event was designed to ensure that everyone stays in their cars.
There is also an opportunity for people who don't have a car to attend the event. "There is an option, a very limited option for those who do not have access to a vehicle," Collura said. "We do have electric carts that will be driving through, and people can queue up and wait for a cart."
"Taste of December Nights" will be happening from Friday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the Inspiration Point parking lots near Balboa Park.