That was the good — and bad — news this year on the peninsula Yuletide front.
“Unfortunately we retired the hot chocolate stand on Garrison. Last year was our final year,” said Carrie Ybarra who, along with husband Kyle, has hosted the fundraiser at their home. “After 18 years, our two daughters are now out of the house and off to college, so we decided that it was the right time to bring it to an end. Although it's bittersweet, we say good bye to our little hot chocolate stand that turned into an amazing community event each year. We can now reflect on the influence we had on so many families in need. We are all pretty proud.”
The Garrison Street holiday nighttime Christmas display survives. But the show has been downsized.
“The neighborhood has had some recent changes,” noted Carrie Ybarra. “There are a few homes for sale and new folks are moving in, not participating in the light show.”
The Ybarra charity hot-chocolate fundraiser started out small with their two daughters setting up a card table in front of their Garrison Street residence. One daughter, now in her 20s, was 6 years old when she and her three best friends set up a small little hot chocolate stand to benefit a young girl in Tijuana they knew who was going to have surgery. They raised about $80 and took that money and bought the girl a Barbie doll and took it to her hospital room.
Kyle Ybarra noted there were 18 different fundraising recipients over the years. Those recipients included a victim of domestic violence, a child with brain cancer, a boy who was shot and survived, a juvenile diabetes sufferer and a man who lost his arm in a boating accident. Rady Children's Hospital was a recipient one year.
Like the chocolate fundraiser, the Garrison Street Christmas light display began humbly, with just a small nativity scene.
The holiday tradition was born as a friendly competition some 30 years ago between the Judd family's mother and daughter trying to outdo one another with their holiday displays on the block between Chatsworth Boulevard and Garrison Place.
In subsequent years, a Santa was added, then angels and Mickey Mouse characters appeared in windows. Eventually, the event morphed into something more like Disneyland. Every year more and more decorations were added —and new neighbors joined in. The neighborhood’s objective was to represent many beliefs, not just Christmas, so everyone could feel the love and be welcomed.
Last year, in 2017, Garrison Street’s year-end holiday event drew a “major league” sponsor, the San Diego Padres. The team sponsored the decorating of a Garrison Street home participating in the light show with a Padres’ theme. The home was decked out in blue with likenesses of Hall of Fame Padres’ relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman, the Friar and a baseball glove.