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SLO County Roundup

Atascadero

The community is invited to Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens for the annual lighting of the trees and other festivities, which will begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 3.

The ceremony stage will be set up on Palma Avenue in front of the historic City Administration Building. City officials and attendees will count down to the lighting of the trees that line Sunken Gardens.

The event will feature live music from the Atascadero Community Band and Atascadero High School’s show and concert choirs.

Santa will welcome visits at the Christmas Castle at 5990 Entrada Ave., where hot chocolate will be served. The Atascadero Main Street Art and Wine Tour is also part of the event from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The lighting event is solely funded through public donations — a move that began in 2009 when it was combined with the art and wine tour.

The entire event costs $650 to $700, which covers items such as rental equipment, the stage and portable restrooms, according to the city’s recreation department.

Prior to 2009, the lighting ceremony was paid for by the city. More attendees attend the event now that the lighting is combined with the art and wine tour, officials said.

Holiday Lighting Ceremony sponsorship applications and monetary donations are due today. Contact Paula Anton at 470-3472 or e-mail panton@atascadero.org.

— Tonya Strickland

Cal Poly

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a key leader in U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for much of the past decade, will speak at Cal Poly in December.

McChrystal, a four-star general and former Green Beret, will appear Dec. 2 at the Performing Arts Center as part of Cal Poly Arts’ lecture series.

He’s expected to speak on America’s global role and its security issues in a lecture titled “The State of International Affairs and the Security Challenges Facing America.”

“Stanley McChrystal brings to our stage the high-profile experience that we want as a part of our speaker series,” said Steve Lerian, director of Cal Poly Arts.

“By all accounts, Gen. McChrystal was a highly competent military strategist; he is deeply knowledgeable about vital security issues important to all of us, and he is known for his outspokenness.”

Called “one of America’s greatest warriors” by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, McChrystal is widely credited for battlefield innovations fusing intelligence and operations.

In 2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan.

His military career ended amid controversy last June after Rolling Stone magazine published his criticisms about the Obama administration’s handling of the war.

— Sarah Linn

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