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By Kristina Pritchett

On Monday evening, a couple hundred people gathered at Pines Park to watch the annual lighting of a holiday tree.

The Capistrano Beach tree lighting started in 1987 after the Capistrano Beach Association purchased an elarica pine tree.

In the tree hung wooden ornaments that were created by Nick Clarke, former Dana Point mayor Karen Lloreda’s husband. The first year, kids were able to decorate them and were placed on the tree during the tree lighting ceremony.

“My husband would create a different ornament each year,” Lloreda said. “It started with the wreath, and then we would have the ceremony on a Sunday and decorate the tree with them.”

Dana Point resident Richard Gardner found some of the original ornaments, including Shana Sutherland’s, who decorated her ornament when she was 10 years old.

Lloreda said she was excited to see so many people in attendance on Monday, and she really enjoyed seeing some of the older ornaments.

“I look at them, and I still remember what child decorated which one,” Lloreda said.

For a number of years, the ceremony was moved to the medians along Camino de Estrella, which continues to be decorated with holiday lights.  However, in 2015 Capo Cares founders Toni Nelson and Patricia O’Keefe brought the ceremony back to Pines Park.

“Last year we had about 80 people in attendance, and this year I thought we would have 150 people but I think we doubled that,” Nelson said with a smile.

City staff set up crafts for children to create, including cookie decorating, handed out cookies and hot chocolate while members of the Capo Beach Church performed. The event was open to families, kids and even the furry four-legged family members, many of which dressed up for the event.

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