Pine Tree Circle “Snow Night”

It’s hard to believe that this year is Steve and Leslie Carlson’s 18th year of Snow Night and the 28th year of their annual community potluck that will magically appear at Pine Tree Circle on Saturday, December 16, from 5-8 p.m., along with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Once again, Leslie says, they, with their daughter, Kristen, “will be in charge of what Steve calls ‘Fire and Ice,’ when we bring in 20 tons of ‘snow’ and set up fire rings with lots of wood for atmosphere and a bit of warmth for those cold, wet hands.” 

They also set up the tables for the potluck feast with plates, plasticware and bottles of water.

Speaking of potluck, whoever heard of a Topanga potluck without enough food? Everyone who comes to frolic in the snow should bring something for themselves and more to share; not just chips and dips but hearty, old-fashioned comfort food such as Vika and Kayvon of Pacific Canyon Drycleaners, who always make a huge pot of chili, and Linda Hinrichs and Randy Just, who bring another huge pot of chili and also help set up the event. Linda Jo Loftus is another who always brings a huge sheet cake. One year, I brought a big honey-baked ham and watched it disappear down to the bone in less than an hour. I’ll do it again this year, realizing I’ve taken the event for granted.

Sadly, James Catterall, an original tenant of Pine Tree Circle and part of the brass band that plays every year, is no longer with us. “We coordinated with him and he and Doug Roy organized that part of the event,” says Leslie. “It’s always wonderful to see so many Topanga families singing songs of the season as the band plays. Later on, people walk around caroling.” This year, as we and the band proclaim the joy of the season, we can be grateful for who James Catterall was and all he contributed to the community.

“We think this is a really fun, community event and hope that this year will be the biggest and best ever,” says Leslie.

Since most of the shops at Pine Tree Circle stay open late that night, come prepared to eat hearty and catch up on your holiday shopping. Locally!


Flavia Potenza

Flavia Potenza is executive editor of the Messenger Mountain News. She is also a founding member of the 40-year old Topanga Messenger that closed its doors in 2016. She can be reached at

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