The line was 75 deep by the time the iron gates of Canterbury Gardens & Gifts opened Thursday evening — an event that for many signifies the beginning of the Christmas season.
“It’s one of my favorite days of the year, absolutely,” said Jill Wright of Poway, who said she has attended the store’s annual Christmas Open House ever since it began 36 years ago at the S. Escondido Boulevard store.
She said she comes for the wreaths and (designer) Mark Robert’s Santa Claus fairies, “and I like to get ornaments for every member of the family that we give on Thanksgiving so everybody has a new ornament for the coming year.”
Wright and her friend Lorraine Kaa of Rancho Bernardo were the first two in line for this years opening, which ran from 5 to 9 p.m.
Canterbury Gardens & Gifts each year in early September closes for roughly two weeks and transforms itself from a traditional hand-made gift store into a winter holiday wonderland.
Kaa, the second person in line, is a relative newcomer to the store. Ten years ago next month her home burned down in Rancho Bernardo during the Witch Creek fire and with it all of her Christmas decorations went up in smoke.
That December she came to the store for the first time “and just loaded up baskets. I spent about $2,000 right then and there. That was pretty fun.”
Store co-owner Dave Hansen said 36 different trees, each adorned with hundreds of ornaments, awaited customers. Each year 20 of the most popular trees are repeated while 16 are new. Each tree has a theme such as fairies and wine, Santas and snowmen, toys and music.
“I always look forward to the…
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