There are a few things that mark the beginning of a true East County winter: 75 percent tighter crowds at Wal-Mart (making for some excellent people watching, if you’re into that sort of thing); Christmas tree lots popping up in empty spaces that remain desolate and depressing the rest of the year; and a sustainable (for the most part) dip in temperature, causing residents to break out the light coats to wear with their flip flops (or, alternately, tank tops with Uggs). And as this weekend promises steady low-60-degree weather, it seems like high time to break out the 7-11 brand eggnog and toast to the “not hot” season.
As always, the region has a delightful variety of choices for those looking for an interesting date idea, a place to meet friends, or an escape for anyone who will seriously start pulling hair if one more person takes cuts in the Wal-Mart check-out line. Better yet, the weekend is getting off to an early start, with a disproportionate load of happenings on Thursday (otherwise known as the desperate cousin of the weekend) and Friday.
Where/when: 9160 Mission Gorge Rd., Santee, 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Why Go: Live in the vicinity of Santee but have trouble deciding which restaurants to frequent on weekend evenings? Check out this year’s Taste of Santee event, featuring a variety of local restaurants and vendors, to get a bite-size idea of what each has to offer and it all supports the holiday charity .
Price: $10 and a can of food.
Where/when: Sycuan Casino, 5469 Casino Way, El Cajon, 7 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
Why Go: Fulfill your motocross fantasies with a Hart & Huntington racing team press conference, freestyle motocross demo and a meet-and-greet cocktail hour with motocross stars Carey Hart, Lance Coury, Kyle Partridge and others. Plus, you’ll get a chance to win a Kawasaki KLX110 bike. Radical.
Where/when: H. Lee House Cultural Center, 3205 Olive St., Lemon Grove, 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Why Go: For a more elegant nightlife experience, indulge in a festive menu of holiday favorites while mingling with Lemon Grove’s finest (including pageant princesses on hand to help serve). Top hat and tails not required.
Price: $25 for one ticket, $45 for two.
Where/when: , 70 Town Center Parkway, Santee, 8 p.m. Thursday.
Why Go: Do you always beat the pants off your friends in Trivial Pursuit? Do you shout answers (or questions, that is) at the TV screen while watching “Jeopardy,” keeping tally of all the money you would have won if you were actually on the show? If so, Trivia Night at Landre’s is right up your alley—it might not offer cash prizes, but they do have door prizes and give-a-ways.
Where/when: Civic Center Park, 3200 Main St., Lemon Grove, 6 p.m.
Why Go: Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a huge, legally sanctioned fireball in the middle of a public park, right? For the past 14 years, it has for residents of Lemon Grove, but everyone in the East County area is welcome. Aside from the fire, the event will feature live music, laser tag, and horse-drawn carriage rides—a set of options guaranteed to please the Grinchiest Grinch you know.
Where/when: Grossmont College, 8800 Grossmont College Dr., El Cajon, 8 p.m. Friday.
Why Go: Talent doesn’t always run in the family, but when it does, it is quite a sight to behold. Check out longtime Grossmont music instructor Fred Benedetti perform a guitar concert with his two daughters, Julia and Regina Benedetti, during a fundraiser for the Grossmont College Guitar Guild.
Where/when: Sycuan Showcase Theatre, 5469 Casino Way, El Cajon, 9 p.m. Friday
Why Go: Urban soul band Tower of Power is a tower indeed, albeit a horizontal one, with 10 (yes, 10) band members spread across the stage. If you think that might result in a crowded sound, think again—they’ve been at it for 40 years and counting.
Where/when: Cosmos Coffee Café, 8278 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, 7 p.m. Saturday.
Why Go: Don’t expect any covers from self-taught local singer-songwriter Blaze Eisner. His blend of acoustic blues and pop is strictly composed of originals—little bits of his soul put to song. That might sound too mushy for most, but sensitivity certainly has a way with the ladies.
Where/when: Lacey J’s Roadhouse Saloon & Grille, 8861 Magnolia Ave., Santee, 9 p.m. Saturday.
Why Go: It’s rare these days to see a “Made in the U.S.A” label on anything, from toys to clothes to appliances of all sorts. But there’s one thing that will always be exclusive to America, despite attempts by foreigners to infiltrate the market (with varying, and often hilarious, results): country music. How apt, then, is the name of the band (American Made) performing at Lacey J’s this Saturday?