YOU'D BE RIGHT ON THE MONEY... if you were to claim that Santa Claus knows his mountain peaks as well as he knows the names of each of the antlered wonders who help his sleigh fly. He's been over Mount Whitney more times than he can count, and he has a soft spot for June and Mammoth Mountains, too. But when he zooms a few thousand feet over San Gorgonio, the Jolly Ol' Elf knows he's getting mighty close to San Jacinto, and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway's charming Mountain Station. Of course, most topographical features, when seen from way up in Mr. Kringle's sleigh, look quite tiny down below, but the tram, and Mountain Station, boast a particular glow the whole year through, thanks to lights and movement and, come December, a large alfresco tree atop the station, a tree that can be seen from the desert floor below. Surely that's one of the reasons he pulls over once a year, not on Christmas Day -- his schedule is super-packed -- but a few Saturdays before, to chat with kids and stop for a few snapshots.
SATURDAY, DEC. 12... is the date that Santa Claus has penned on his magical calendar for his big tram stop-by, a stop-by that'll happen around the middle of the day, from 11 to 3 o'clock (he has to get back to the North Pole, to make toys, or else he'd spend more time). A bevy of twinkly to-dos will ensue, including the enjoying of gratis candy canes and a performance by the Martin Luther King High School Chamber Singers & Snow Choir. Will it be chilly at the top? Mitten-chilly? It often is around this time of year, with pockets of snow here and there (an inch was already recorded at Mountain Station a few weeks back). There are more holiday happenings ahead, with dinners and music and longer holiday hours and such, but if the idea of hobnobbing with Mr. Claus at a picturesque mountain lodge-like building charms, then book your passage up, up, up. But will you see his sleigh, along with Rudolph and the gang, speeding by the tram on your way back down? It's the middle of December, and they have lots of stuff to do, so keep your eyes peeled.