Nothing says Christmas like Saturday night karaoke with Santa Claus down at your favorite Japanese restaurant/dive bar.
That’s where I found myself in spirit overload last weekend, when the big guy showed up at a holiday party in full regalia. I watched as he ate some sushi, drank a beer and sang “Blue Christmas” (or some other holiday classic) before disappearing into the late-night fog (sans Rudolph, oddly).
It was all very festive and magical.
I didn’t think to corner the ol’ jolly fellow to ask where Fresno sits on his list of naughty or nice this year. Nor did I pass along my annual Christmas list, which I put together with help from my favorite community leaders, entrepreneurs and artistic types.
I’ll leave the list here instead, assuming someone will clip it from the paper and send it along. More likely, someone will tag him when the story is shared on Facebook.
▪ ▪ ▪
Here’s what some Fresnans want you to bring to their city this year:
▪ “An IKEA. Why isn’t there an IKEA? Several days later and that’s the only clever thing I can think of.”
– Veronica Stumpf, downtown lover, blogger and broker with Stumpf & Company Real Estate
▪ “A soccer-specific stadium, preferably downtown. Fresno’s developing a vibrant, dynamic soccer culture and a permanent home for the Fresno Fuego would put that culture over the top.”
– Jordan Wiebe, soccer fanatic and founder of Fire Squad Fresno
▪ “My Christmas wish for Fresno is simple: Prosperity and employment for everyone. And politicians who know that government can be a hindrance to both.”
– Clint Olivier, Fresno City Council, district seven
▪ “A sleigh overflowing with passion and purpose for this place we call home. And new untold chapters filled with hope, harmony and more than a few fairy tale endings to inspire us all.”
– Armen Bacon, author and Fresno Bee contributor
▪ “I wish Santa would give the gift of laughter to Fresno, in the form of a dedicated comedy/improv space. Also, a comedy scene. And definitely people who will go support comedy shows. It’s time groups like Blimprov and comedy nights like Boney Beezly’s The Jacuzzi have a permanent place to thrive and call their own.”
– Cristobal Carrillo, musician and comedy supporter. Founder Spanspek Music and Arts Festival
▪ “Santa, please bring our great city more joy, more jobs, more parks and more water. I also ask for a safe and vibrant downtown. And, if there’s room on the sleigh: a good book of poetry for all.”
– Lee Herrick, Fresno Poet Laureate
There are plenty of things I want for Fresno, too. There’s a whole list of businesses in fact, mentioned in this column and taken up by the Downtown Fresno Partnership to help mark its process in revitalization. An art-house theater would be a Christmas miracle.
But I’m a fan of practical gifts, too. Finding that one thing that someone really needs, but would never think to get for themselves. So, I’m asking Santa to bring Fresno a sense of identity this year. I want – and more importantly this city needs – an unapologetic, authentic and positive self-image that each and every Fresnan can cling to proudly.
It should be pointed out that there are people – everyone quoted here in fact – working hard every day to make this happen.
For them, I would ask for support in their endeavors in the New Year.