On the first Friday morning of December, every year since 1994, Patchen California of Los Gatos, in cooperation with Colliers International global real estate services company of San Jose, hosts the entire 2nd grade class of a local school (currently Trace Elementary - the one that burned) for a Holiday outing in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
It starts with 100 or more kids arriving in huge yellow buses - they bounce out like ping-pong balls and head straight for the cookies and milk. The organizers (Colliers brokers) break them into groups of 5 kids each and start up the side of the mountain in search of perfect Christmas trees.
Over the next two hours they cut down trees, they plant seedlings in cans to take home, and they learn about the ghost town of Patchen and how "Mountain Charlie" got attacked by a Grizzly Bear. When Santa arrives with candy canes, their eyes get as big as saucers and they sing Christmas songs to him. These kids are predominantly from low income families and most have never been out of the city before, so this is an experience that will be with them for their lifetimes.
Later, after the kids are back on the buses, we pack up dozens and dozens of Christmas trees that Patchen donates to the school, to be distributed to families that might not otherwise be able to have a "real" Christmas celebration. The refreshments and even the truck to haul the trees to school are donated by local businesses.
In Beck's words, "this is one of those events where the adults have more fun than the kids; we love to have them back year after year."
Patchen is a collection location this year for Toys for Tots. People who donate a new, unwrapped toy get a $5 discount on their Christmas tree.
We also have commerative "challenge coins", to hang on the tree like ornaments. Those are $5 and 100% of the proceeds go to Toys For Tots.
Get in the holiday spirit by bringing family and friends to ride Roaring Camp’s daytime steam train to Bear Mountain. At the summit, guests may sip hot cider and delight in viewing a tree-lined walk of beautifully decorated holiday trees. Trees are provided by Patchen California Christmas Tree Farm, Los Gatos.