Dave and Pam Warta, organizers of this year’s inaugural three-day holiday celebration, have decided to give it another go in 2013.
“We definitely feel it was a success, although there certainly is room for improvement and growth,” Dave said. “But for the first year, it turned out well.”
He said revenue generated during the Nov. 17 to 19 weekend events at the Portuguese Hall covered expenses and turned a small profit, which will be donated to local charities through the Tracy Sunrise Rotary Foundation.
From the start, Dave and Pam have stressed that the celebration is not a fundraiser, but a way to gather people of the community together for the holidays.
The Saturday night dinner-dance attracted 102 people. Although it was a modest start, participation can be increased next year and possibly in years to come, Dave said.
In talking to Dave earlier this week, we both agreed that a holiday dinner-dance is a community activity that has a strong history in Tracy and deserves to be continued.
For years, it was the Tracy Hospital Auxiliary Ball, held annually in the Tracy Inn Gold Room. I can personally recall a number of those evenings when we literally danced the night away.
And now the Festival of Trees has given way to Tracy’s Home for the Holidays.
Although the presence of Santa and Mrs. Claus helped build participation in daytime activities Saturday and Sunday at the Portuguese Hall, programs for children didn’t draw as many youngsters as was hoped, Dave said.
“We are planning to add new children’s activities next year, and that should help,” he said.
The annual breakfast a week later at the Masonic Hall with the jolly couple will be incorporated into next year’s program, and that is expected to boost the family breakfast turnout.
Artisans taking part in the two-day Christmas boutique were pleased with the number of Tracyites who stopped by their booths and bought all kinds of things, so that part of the celebration looks solid.
The final event of this year’s inaugural effort, the free Thanksgiving dinner for senior citizens, is actually a separate activity that no doubt will be held independently of Tracy’s Home for the Holidays next year.
“Pam and I have told people we will do it again next year,” Dave said. “We’re already excited about it.”
The Wartas have not only enthusiasm, but also the know-how and willingness to do the heavy lifting to make Tracy’s Home for the Holidays an annual, successful holiday fixture in our town.
The caution flag
Recent reports have helped to solidify my initial reaction — caution with a dose of skepticism — in hearing all promises for the giant development of what is now called the Spirit of California entertainment complex on Tracy’s north side.
First off, promoter James Rogers failed to deliver confirmed financial backing and a formal application sought by the city of Tracy to continue giving the proposal — originally a race track, but now a much larger project — exclusive negotiating rights with the city.
Despite the twin shortfalls and against the recommendation of the city staff, the City Council is allowing Rogers’ initial corporate entity to continue holding exclusive negotiating rights while he seeks to form a new corporation.
The next witching hour will be when the project must come up with money to finance costs of the city outsourcing initial planning work to planning consultants. There is no deadline for that to occur, however.
And then last week, Bob Brownne of the Press news staff reported that several major land owners in the proposed project area have not met with Rogers, as was originally touted, and know little about the project.
With plans already in the works for other solid, job-creating projects — locating a huge Amazon “fulfillment center” on Grant Line Road, getting the Gateway Business Park up and running and launching the Cordes Ranch business center west of town — it would seem members of the City Council would want to focus their and the city staff’s time and energies on those kinds of endeavors, instead of dealing with a venture that has established a pattern of not delivering on its promises.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at email@example.com.