Rain hinders holiday celebrations in the North Bay, but residents say they're thankful for it

- As much as rain is needed, it couldn't come at a worse time for some outdoor events over the long holiday weekend. 

In San Rafael Friday night, the 39th annual Winter Wonderland Celebration was a bit too wintry, with rain most of the day and into the evening. 

A popular snow hill, built for children to slid on, was shut-down when it melted into slush. 

"This is the worst weather we've had, definitely the worst, and it shows in the size of our crowd," said San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips, who led the countdown for the tree lighting at 6 pm. 

Santa Claus arrived by cable car in a shortened Parade of Lights. 

A procession that has attracted dozens of entries in the past, had only a few in the drizzle. Sidewalk spectators were sparse, and many people departed after the tree-lighting, although some waiting in the wetness to visit Santa under a canopy. 

"We haven't missed a year yet, so I figured we needed to come down," said Josh Klein of San Rafael, waiting with his wife, two daughters, and mother-in-law.

"We weren't even sure they were going to have it in the rain, and it was a little short, but fun."  
Throughout the day, empty carnival rides sat dripping and deserted. 

"On my ride, about ten kids all day," admitted ride operator Maria Ayon, wrapped in a waterproof poncho.

Downtown streets are usually jammed with thousands of families on the day after Thanksgiving.
But Will Kantor, 9, and his dad weren't complaining about having the carnival games all to themselves. 

"We're so happy to have the rain and the fresh air, it's what we're thankful for," said Ari Kantor of San Rafael."This is nothing compared to what other people are going through right now, I'll take this."

Said Will, simply: "I think the rain is really fun to play in." 

Vendors sat idly as well, with no customers, and trying to make the best of it. 

"Who's going to argue with rain right now, in California?", posed Lucia Mychajluk, owner of Lucky Pop Kettlecorn, where unsold bags stacked up.

"It could be worse. Our tent is intact, even though water's coming down, and blowing on my face sometimes."

The closure of the sledding hill was probably most disappointing for children.

Shaped from 40 tons of ice, trucked-in and then crushed and shaped into sled trails, the slope was open for about an hour, then too rain-saturated after that. 

"It's really for the better with all the fires and stuff, but it's a bummer for the snow hill," said snow attendant Jonah Albers. 

The snow will stick around for Saturday, from 9am to noon, and if skies clear, the operator will try to salvage it for some sledding. 

The mayor was trying to make the best of a soggy situation. 

"Everyone here is to be commended for coming," said Phillips, "and it's still a great event, a great way to kick off the holidays."  

One of Santa elves agreed. 

"The last month was a hard one for a lot of people, "said Tracy Cohen, alongside Frosty the Snowman," so Frosty and I decided to come out and spread joy and a little rain doesn't deter us, it brings us more joy." 
 

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