View From Grant Park in Ventura and Serra Cross in January 1956

Panoramic view from Grant Park in Ventura in three photos taken in January 1956.

Panoramic view from Grant Park in Ventura in three photos taken in January 1956.

Here's a panoramic view from Grant Park in Ventura taken in January 1956. Shortly after Father Junipero Serra founded Mission San Buenaventura, a large wooden cross was placed on top of the hill overlooking the Mission church.

The original cross, damaged over time by the elements, was replaced in the 1860s. That cross blew down in a storm on November 5, 1875 and was not replaced for 40 years.

The cross at Grant Park / Serra Cross Park in 2015.

The cross at Grant Park / Serra Cross Park in 2015.

A new wooden cross was placed by a local women's service club on September 9, 1912. In 1918, Kenneth and Tonie Grant donated the surrounding hillside to the City of San Buenaventura. Roads to the cross were built around 1920. The circular stone pedestal and concrete pathway the cross now sits atop was built in March 1932. The cross that sits there today, a bit charred from the Thomas Fire, was replaced by the city in 1941.

The Serra Cross Conservancy is seeking donations at www.gofundme.com/serracrosshelp to help restore the cross and surrounding property.

Serra Cross in January 1956, from a private collection.

Serra Cross in January 1956, from a private collection.

Residential Holiday Light Displays in the Conejo Valley and Surrounding Areas

There are an amazing number of spectacular residential holiday light displays throughout the Conejo Valley and Ventura County this 2017 Christmas season! We've compiled this list of displays that are synchronized to music. Click the links below for more detailed information about each display. Since these are residential displays, timing can and will vary and of course be impacted by rain (yes, let's hope we get some rain!) and other factors.

Residential Light Displays:

For all sorts of holiday season events and activities, click THIS LINK.

Christmas and Other Holiday Season Events Around Ventura County

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Hop onto the holiday bandwagon and check out some of these dozens of events in and around Ventura County, most of which are FREE! Christmas parades, Santa visits, carnivals, train rides, holiday runs, holiday home tours, boutiques, nativity displays and lots of holiday music and entertainment!

This list will be updated regularly as we move our way through the Thankgiving and Christmas holiday season! Submit additions here.

Do contact event coordinators as things sometimes change! Also, some events require RSVP.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Residential Light Displays:

Past Events:

  • Sat 11/11: Santa's Arrival at The Oaks Mall (10am to noon)
  • Sat 11/11: Annual Tree Lighting and Santa's Arrival at Simi Valley Town Center
  • Fri 11/17: Holiday Tree Lighting at The Promenade at Westlake
  • Sat 11/18: Tree Lighting at The Collection at RiverPark
  • Sat 11/18: TOHS Holiday Boutique
  • Sat 11/19: Santa Paws Event at Ventura Beach Marriott
  • Thu 11/23: Thanksgiving Day Pumpkin Smash at Santa Barbara Zoo
  • Thu 11/23: 13th Annual Turkey Day Dash in Thousand Oaks
  • Thu 11/23: 4th Annual Thanksgiving Day 5K in Simi Valley
  • Thu 11/23: 10th Annual Ventura Turkey Trot 5K and Kids' 1K
  • Sat 11/24: Santa Parachutes Into Janss Marketplace
  • 11/24-11/26: Dudley House Victorian Holiday Boutique in Ventura
  • Sat 11/25: 68th Annual Santa Paula Christmas Parade
  • 11/29-12/2: Simi Valley Festival of Trees
  • Fri 12/1: 67th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Oxnard
  • Fri 12/1: 65th Annual Santa Barbara Downtown Holiday Parade
  • 12/1-2: Village Voices Chorale Holiday Concert in Thousand Oaks
  • Fri 12/1: Christmas at the Camarillo Ranch
  • Fri 12/1: Camarillo Old Town Winter Walk & Tree Lighting
  • Fri 12/1: Calvary MOPS Christmas Boutique in Westlake Village (9AM-Noon)
  • Sat 12/2: 56th Annual Oxnard Christmas Parade
  • Sat 12/2: Run for Holiday Fun 5K/10K at Camarillo Family YMCA
  • Sat 12/2: 10th Annual Oxnard Tamale Festival
  • Sat 12/2: Ventura Winter Wine Walk and Holiday Street Fair
  • 12/2: Holiday Homes Tour in Westlake Village
  • 12/2: Holiday Fair at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo
  • 12/1-12/3: Simi Community Christmas International Creche Exhibit and Music Performances
  • 12/1-12/3: Dudley House Victorian Holiday Boutique in Ventura
  • 12/1-3: Cal Lutheran Christmas Festival Concerts in Thousand Oaks (buy tix in advance)
  • 12/1-3: No Room at the Inn Nativity Display in Camarillo
  • 12/2-12/3: Cancer Support Community Holiday Boutique in Westlake Village
  • 12/2-12/3: Festive European Christmas Marketplace at Ventura Harbor Village
  • 12/2-12/3: Ventura County Ballet Company Presents "The Nutcracker" in Oxnard
  • Sun 12/3: Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis in Agoura Hills
  • Sun 12/3: Winter Celebration at Leonis Adobe Museum in Calabasas
  • Sun 12/3: Las Posadas Celebration at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks
  • Sun 12/3: "Santa Paws" Event and Craft Fair in Ojai
  • Sun 12/3: Holiday Open House at Stagecoach Inn Museum Newbury Park (1-4PM)
  • Sun 12/3: Snow Leopard Festival / Sledding at Santa Barbara Zoo
  • Sun 12/3: 6th Annual Holly Jolly Half Marathon, 5K/10K in Camarillo
  • Tue 12/5: Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Event at The Commons at Calabasas
  • Tue 12/5: Holiday Boutique at Conejo Adventist Elementary School Newbury Park (3-5PM)
  • 12/6: Santa Nights at the Camarillo Ranch House
  • Wed 12/6: Hanukkah Party at Cal Lutheran
  • Thu 12/7: Sankta Lucia Service at Cal Lutheran
  • Sat 12/9: CANCELLED DUE TO IMPACT OF FIRE 56th Annual Camarillo Christmas Parade
  • Sat 12/9: Santa Photos and Holiday Fun at Malibu Country Mart (noon to 4pm)
  • Sat 12/9: Santa at the Adobe in Agoura Hills
  • Sat 12/9: 52nd Annual Holiday Parade of Lights at Channel Islands Harbor
  • Sat 12/9: Westlake Village Symphony/Los Robles Children's Choir Concerts
  • 12/8-12/10: Ventura County Ballet Company Presents "The Nutcracker" in Ventura
  • 12/8-12/10: Dudley House Victorian Holiday Boutique in Ventura
  • 12/9-12/10: Footworks Youth Ballet Presents "The Nutcracker" in Oxnard
  • 12/9-12/10: Free Photos with Santa and Toy Drive at Hollywood Storage in Newbury Park
  • Sun 12/10: CANCELLED DUE TO FIRE Santa to the Sea Half Marathon and 5K in Oxnard
  • Sun 12/10: Holiday Sing-Along Family Event at The Shoppes at Westlake (3-6PM)
  • Sun 10/10: Boys & Girls Club of Moorpark Holiday Boutique (10AM-3PM)
  • Sun 12/10: 39th Annual "Homes for the Holidays" Home Tour and Boutique in Camarillo
  • Sun 12/10: Olivas Adobe Holiday Candlelight Tours in Ventura (CANCELLED)
  • Tue 12/12: 1st Day of Hanukkah Celebration at Janss Marketplace Thousand Oaks
  • Tue 12/12: Giant Ice Menorah Lighting Event in Newbury Park (5PM)
  • 12/13: Santa Nights at the Camarillo Ranch House (4:30pm)
  • 12/13: Chanukah Celebration at Simi Valley Town Center (7pm)
  • 12/12-14: 11th Annual Holly Trolley Tours in Oxnard
  • Thu 12/14: Holiday Open House at Malibu City Hall
  • Thu 12/14: Menorah Lighting and Chanukah Festival at Pacific View Mall (7-8PM)
  • 12/15-16: 41st Annual Ventura Harbor Holiday Parade of Lights
  • Sat 12/16: Winter Wonderland and Holiday Marketplace at Ventura Harbor Village
  • Sat 12/16: Santa Photos and Live Carolers at Malibu Country Mart (noon to 4pm)
  • Sat 12/16: Snow Day at Simi Valley Town Center
  • Sat 12/16: 6th Annual Purrs & Paws Holiday Boutique & Vintage Market in Ojai
  • 12/16-12/17: Free Photos with Santa and Toy Drive at Hollywood Storage in Newbury Park
  • 12/16-12/17: Arctic Lights Event at America's Teaching Zoo in Moorpark
  • 12/16-12/17: 24th Annual "The Nutcracker" by Pacific Festival Ballet in Thousand Oaks
  • Sun 12/17: Chanukah Festival at Ventura Harbor Village (2-4:30PM)
  • Sun 12/17: 10th Annual Chanukah Festival in Moorpark (4:30-6PM)
  • 12/18: Santa Nights at the Camarillo Ranch House
  • 12/18: Westlake Village Symphony Messiah Sing-Along at Calvary Church Westlake Village
  • Tue 12/19: Hanukkah Celebration at Janss Marketplace Thousand Oaks
  • Wed 12/13: Menorah Lighting and Chanukah Celebration at The Commons at Calabasas

Thomas Fire Grows to 2nd Largest Fire in California History and is 55% Contained

The Thomas Fire has now burned 272,000 acres, making it the 2nd largest wildfire in California since accurate records of fires were maintained in 1932. Only the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego County was larger, at least as of tonight, at 273,246 acres. 

Cal Fire anticipates the Thomas Fire to continue burning until full containment is achieved by January 7th. That would mean the fire is expected to burn continuously for 34 days. As of tonight the Thomas Fire was 55% contained.

Areas of particular focus by firefighters are Montecito, Rose Valley and Fillmore. The area between Fillmore and Ventura along Highway 126 will remain in patrol status.

The Thomas Fire originated in Santa Paula the night of December 4th near county-managed Steckel Park, the Ventura Ranch KOA and Thomas Aquinas College (which the fire was named after).

The main store and cabins at the KOA were destroyed but much of the campgrounds is intact. Management indicates they will be rebuilding, with a goal of re-opening in the Spring.

The college did not sustain serious damage thanks to the efforts of firefighters, though there will still be extensive recovery costs. President McLean provides more information in the video below. Donations to help the school in its recovery efforts are accepted at thomasaquinas.edu/news/help-us-recover.

The Seabee Museum at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme is a Local Must-See

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The U.S. Navy Seabee Museum at 1001 Addor Street, Port Hueneme is a state-of-the-art, free of charge must-see for local residents and visitors alike. One of the U.S. Navy's 11 official museums, the Seabee Museum displays historical material relating to the history of the Naval Construction Force, better known as the Seabees, and the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps.

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The 38,000 sq ft museum was recently renovated and features modern exhibit spaces, memorial garden, theater, education room and well-stocked gift shop. Well worth a visit with the kids. Additionally, the STEM Center at the Museum is a hidden gem!

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The second oldest of the official Navy museums, the Seabee Museum was established in 1947 in Port Hueneme, which today is part of Naval Base Ventura County.

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The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. Closed Sundays and all Federal holidays. Admission and parking are free. Learn more at www.usnavyseabeemuseum.com or call 805.982.5165.

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City of Fillmore Neon-Lighted Sign From Pre-World War II

You don't see many signs around town like the Fillmore sign at the northeast corner of Highway 126 (E. Telegraph Road) and Central Avenue.

Fillmore sign photo taken as I was waiting at the stoplight driving south on Central Avenue.

Fillmore sign photo taken as I was waiting at the stoplight driving south on Central Avenue.

The sign was originally constructed in 1940, making it over 70 years old. It is designated a historical landmark by the City of Fillmore.

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The Fillmore sign is a cool green neon lit up at nightIt's not exactly easy getting to Fillmore from the Conejo Valley as you either have to take the winding path of the 23/Grimes Canyon Road via Moorpark or drive out to Ventura via the 101 and take the 126 to Fillmore by way of Santa Paula. Kind of a haul but certainly fun to do every now and then.

At a total area of only 2.8 square miles, Fillmore is the smallest of Ventura County's 10 cities, and its population of roughly 16,000 places it 9th (roughly double the population of Ojai).

Quite a quaint little place that is certainly fun to visit, with highlights such as numerous themed train rides at Fillmore & Western Railway, State Fish Hatchery and Railroad Visitor Center, along with an old town feel along Central Avenue.

Volunteer Opportunities in Ventura County

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Looking for a job? Why not help yourself by filling in the gaps in your resume with new experiences while helping others! Or if you are just looking to give back to the local community, there are hundreds of opportunities to volunteer throughout Ventura County. Here's where to find volunteer opportunities:

The United Way of Ventura County hosts www.VolunteerVenturaCounty.org, which lists numerous upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Since 1998, VolunteerMatch.org has helped volunteers find over 4 million volunteer matches at over 60,000 non-profits across the country. You type in your zip code and in my case today it identified over 250 volunteer opportunities within a 20 mile radius of Newbury Park.

Or visit the Local Charities section of Conejo Valley Guide and you'll find over 100 Ventura County area non-profit organizations, most of which could use your help. I clicked a few and found plenty of volunteer needs publicized on each entity's website, like MANNA Food Bank, L.I.F.E. Animal Rescue in Agoura, Hospice of the Conejo, Friends of the Thousand Oaks Library, and CareGivers - Volunteers Assisting the Elderly.

You could also join one of over 80 service organizations in the Service Clubs section of CVG. The Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimist, Assistance League, Lions Club and other organizations provide needed services to others in need. 

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The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary seeks volunteers ages 17 and up to join its local Channel Islands flotilla. Bring the USCG AUX your skills or join to develop your leadership skills through numerous free classes and workshops offered. The USCG AUX was established by Congress in 1939 to assist the Coast Guard in promoting boating safety. Volunteers assist the Coast Guard in non-law enforcement programs such as safety patrols, search and rescue, maritime security, vessel safety checks, public safe boating classes and watchstanding. Visit www.d11s.org for more information.

Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County seeks volunteers for its ReStores, with shifts available Tuesday through Saturday. Visit www.habitatventura.org/habitat-restore-merchandising to learn more and sign up.