A fire dancer was just one kind of entertainment on hand in front of at least 200 people at a Chanukah drive-in event at Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge.
With health restrictions in place, Rabbi Ahud Sela and his staff came up with ideas for safely celebrating the Jewish holiday together.
What You Need To Know
- Many businesses are thinking outside the box to save the holiday season and their bottom line
- Irwindale Speedway has transformed into "Santa’s Speedway" for the holiday season
- Another local holiday offering is "Holiday Road," created by the same team behind the popular "Nights of the Jack" Halloween event
- Stephen Weiss Temple in Los Angeles is hosting its first ever Lit Hanukkah Drive-Thru event
"We came up with games," said Sela. "Once we had games, we said, we have to call it a 'Car-nival.'"
Activities included "Get the Latke in the Pan" and "Donut on the Ring."
Guests also had latkes delivered to their cars, car hop style, and tuned their radios to sing along and hear music as well as instructions. Sela added that the synagogue only charged $5 per car, and about 80 cars registered for the event.
"Even though things are dark, we have to still be hopeful, and that’s one of the messages of Chanukah is to be a light in the darkness," he said.
"I think I signed up within the first three seconds of seeing the email," said Aaron Simon. "Just any chance to get out and be a part of a community."
Simon and his wife Jordan celebrated the festival of lights with their toddler, Clio. The couple was just grateful to get away from screens and reconnect with the community — a feeling shared by many who showed up to celebrate.
"Even if you’re in your car, you’re still with people and you’re really participating, and that’s what I like about it, and it’s creative," said Sherri Kadvitz, the temple's former youth director. "I think people have really been thinking outside the box."
Stephen Weiss Temple in Los Angeles is hosting its first ever Lit Hanukkah Drive-Thru event, a 30-minute immersive experience with synchronized lights, music, video, and lasers. Tickets are available at $75 for the event, which runs through Christmas.
Elsewhere, the Irwindale Speedway has transformed into Santa’s Speedway, where guests actually drive onto the racetrack. One of the highlights is a 110-foot tall Christmas tree in the center of the track.
"I drive through it every night and go, 'This is so cool!'" said President Tim Huddleston, who helped get the entire event set up in about six weeks. "Middle of October, I was sitting here, obviously looking at the financial statement and going 'Oh man, how are we going to make it?'"
Races resumed in May without spectators, but Huddleston said these lights are a lifesaver. He added that more than 7,500 cars have already passed through, and he expects up to 20,000 more before they close on January 10.
"This event will literally save our year and is on pace to dig us out of, what, eight months or nine months of not being open, not being able to sell one can of beer, no popcorn, no parking, nothing here," Huddleston said.
Santa’s speedway charges up to $75 per car, but specials are sometimes available for $59.
Last, but not least, head over to King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas for Holiday Road, created by the same team behind the popular Nights of the Jack Halloween event. Tickets are also offered at $75 per car.
"With everything going on, this is a great alternative to celebrate in a safe manner," said co-owner Bobby Ross. "We are small business owners as well, and we’re trying to continue our business and provide for our families ourselves.”
Based on how often all these events are selling out, it’s clear families are craving entertainment and overjoyed to get out and celebrate.
Other holiday light events include:
- Christmas in Color in San Dimas
- Saddleback Church in Lake Forest
- Christmas Lights in Pico Rivera
- Dodgers Holiday Festival in L.A.
- The Elf on the Shelf in Pomona
- Electric Noel in Norco
- Happy Place Drive-Thru in L.A.
- Hikari Lights Festival Tanaka Farms, in Irvine
- Light it Up MOVAL in Moreno Valley
- Night of Lights in Costa Mesa
- WonderLAnd in Woodland Hills
- Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia