The Cambrian

Christmas Market, light show grow at Cambria Pines Lodge

Shana McCormick, left, and a coworker help get the Cambria Christmas Market put together on Thursday, Nov. 19, at Cambria Pines Lodge.
Shana McCormick, left, and a coworker help get the Cambria Christmas Market put together on Thursday, Nov. 19, at Cambria Pines Lodge.

If you’ve been nice, maybe your parents will take you to the Cambria Christmas Market this year. But if you’ve been naughty, Mom and Dad might take you there, as well — to see Krampus, the “anti-Santa” figure from Alpine folklore who punishes children who’ve misbehaved.

Krampus is one of five new displays this year at Cambria Pines Lodge, site of the vendors market and decorative light display.

“It’s going to be a really great setup again this year, and it’s going to be extremely festive,” said market manager George Marschall, who noted that other displays would be featured down the road at the Cambria Nursery. “The nursery is bigger and better than last year. It’s not the same property, but pretty much everybody comes over.”

Besides Krampus there’ll also be another lighted tunnel to join the first, which acts as a sparkling entry to the decorated walk beyond the vendors section. Other new displays are a miniature lighted Golden Gate Bridge; a lighted aquarium feature; and an interactive display where kids can turn the lights off and on.

“We’re trying to make the displays as interactive as possible so they really engage our guests and they can take a lot of selfies,” said Shana McCormick, director of lighting and decorating. “We’re trying to go with as authentic a European-style market as we can.”

Cambria artist Jayne Koontz, who worked with Christopher Brazelton to create the welcome sign along Highway 1 at the south end of Cambria, has made a couple of large, interactive “Christmas cards” near the Golden Gate Bridge, where people can pose for pictures.

Other familiar features have been beefed up from years past, McCormick said.

“We add to them every year,” she said. “So, for example, with the Nutcracker (display), we added characters. We try to take a display and work on it every year.”

In all, Marschall said, there are more than 1 million lights on display.

The new displays aren’t the only changes for 2015. The market itself has expanded to 24 vendors, half again as large as last year’s 16. And entry fees are different, too. Last year’s flat $5 entry fee has been replaced by a tiered system that charges $3 to $10, depending on the night.

“We’re trying to get more people to come on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so those nights are $3,” Marschall said. “We’re trying to get fewer people to come on Saturdays, so those nights are $10.”

Admission is $5 for the first two Fridays and Sundays, while the $10 fee applies for the last six nights of the market’s run, Dec. 18-23. Kids 5 and younger are admitted free throughout the course of the event.

Another big change involves parking, which won’t be allowed in the neighborhood on Yorkshire Drive or Burton Drive. Two buses and a shuttle will run to the Lodge from the primary parking site at Coast Union High School, 2950 Santa Rosa Creek Road, Marschall said, with overflow parking available at The Brambles Dinner House, 4005 Burton Drive; Cambria Hardware, 2345 Village Lane; and public parking on Center Street.

Visitors won’t be able to park at the Lodge, either, though a few places for people with disabled placards or license plates may be available there, he said.

The parking plan and admission pricing are both part of an agreement with the California Coastal Commission, the state agency with jurisdiction over the event.

“It’s not a money-making thing,” Marschall said, referring to the change in admission prices. “We’d rather just have it be at $5, but we’ve been given mandates and we do what we have to do to keep traffic down.”

Marshall said she market drew about 40,000 people during its run last year, and he doesn’t expect the off-site parking to affect attendance this year.

“I think people really want to see these lights, and they’ll do whatever is necessary to get there,” he said.

Market hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 27-29, Dec. 2-6, Dec. 9-13 and Dec. 16-23.

Announced vendors

Alloco’s Bakery, Brigitte’s Creations, Central Coast Candleware, Centrally Grown, Creative Designs by Ute, Cyndi’s Sheep Shack, Flying Fist Pottery, Forever Santa, Gay Melody, Handmade, He Saw She Saw, Ianmac Fused Glass, Kathryn Welsh Fine Jewelry, La Bella Olives, Lavender Oaks Farm, Linn’s, Mehlenbacher’s Taffy, NaturaDeezeacs, Psychic Gifts, Simply Me, SLO Coast Jerky, Tom Merrin’s Hardwood Toys.