BARSTOW — Decked out in his Salvation Army uniform, Major David Ebel had one of his hands wrapped tightly around one of the three poles to his kettle stand and the other ringing his gold bell. His dog, Bucky, laid at his feet.
"It's going to be a short night," Ebel said. He stood next to the stage set up for the third annual Route 66 Christmas Festival in downtown Barstow Friday night. The temperature had already dipped to under 50 degrees as the event kicked off at 5 p.m.
Ebel said he wouldn't let the cold prevent him and Bucky from showing up.
"It's tradition now," he said. "I got phone calls from a ton of people. 'You are coming.' "
Ebel was also showing off his new kettle stand which he paid double the price for than the standard one.
"It's the one from 'It's A Wonderful Life' movie. This is the same model kettle stand. They are like memories. I splurged and got us one," he said. "It's amazing how many people walk up and look at it and get tears in their eyes because it brings them back to a memory to when they were young."
At least a couple hundred people showed up to brave the cold with Ebel.
"No, no, no," Eric Blaine said, when asked if the cold was preventing his family from enjoying the festival. "We actually have a daughter in the pageant over there. We had to be here."
Blaine had one of his children on his shoulders so she could see over the audience as Studio M dancers performed on stage.
"I'm enjoying it," Jamie Rodriguez said. She was there to watch her daughter perform with Mrs. Loretta's Tot Time, the first act of the night. "They were good. It went quickly. It's cold."
Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter@mlambdispatch.