CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Riding in on his fire engine slay, a visit from Santa kicked off the holiday festivities in Cathedral City Thursday night.
With his help, neighbors lit the downtown Christmas tree for the annual tree lighting ceremony held at the Civic Center.
"It's about community, getting out to see people who reside in your community." said Denise Bowman, of Cathedral City.
Kids lined up for hot cocoa and cookies and to put in a special request with Santa.
"We're really excited about Christmas, but it's not about getting, it's about giving," said Bowman.
In the spirit of generosity, more than a hundred wreaths of all styles and sizes decked the halls of Mary Pickford Theater to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City.
"Some are themed out with dogs and bears and some are traditional," said Theresa Hooks, of Cathedral City.
The wreath auction proceeds help fund life skills programs for the club, which serves more than 100 kids each day.
"As an independent organization in Cathedral City, we desperately need funds to be able to help kids in the West Valley," said CEO Scott Robinson.
Also, 25 bicycles were attached to the auctioned-off wreaths.
"When people buy the wreath, it also gives a bicycle to a very deserving child," said Robinson.
The club kids showcased their talents with a holiday cabaret performance.
"It's really affordable. Children need that. We need that in this community so desperately," said Bowman.
Some neighbors said they turned out to support the cause of helping local kids succeed and ultimately improve the city.
Bowman says the community needs to "Come together in the good spirit of sportsmanship. We may not all have the same political views but we need to come together to move the city in the direction it needs to be."
The event raised about $18,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City. On top of that, Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit made a $10,000 donation.