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Locals Make La Posada an SC Christmas Tradition

The traditional kids' reenactment of Joseph and Mary's search for shelter leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ is set for Dec. 21 in San Clemente.

In the Bible, Joseph and Mary, heavy with child, seek shelter throughout Bethlehem. Every innkeeper turns them away until they're forced to take shelter in a stable, where the savior is born.

The residents in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood off Camino de los Mares in San Clemente have symbolically retraced these steps of the Virgin and Joseph for the last several years in an imported Mexican tradition called "La Posada."

The traditional Posada happens every evening for nine days, but the San Clemente celebration will be confined to the evening of Dec. 21.

"It's a tradition in Mexico, and the neighbors here in the neighborhood, we were talking about it four years ago, and we decided to do it, to have La Posada," said one of the event's founders, Marcela Perez. "We have games, pinatas and food. Every year it's been growing."

Last year and this year, the mega congregation of Saddleback Church has thrown their muscle behind the event, organizing supplies and volunteers, said Denise Obrero of the city of San Clemente's human affairs department.

"It started with some moms in the neighborhood who wanted to recreate their traditions from Mexico," Obrero said.

Also involved are OC Human Relations and the city's Human Affairs Commission, along with other local organizations and churches.

In the tradition of La Posada, the procession will be led by a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph through a part of the small but densely populated neighborhood along Calles Canasta and Campana.

During La Posada, children ask for shelter and are denied at each home on the street -- until they reach the one where the party has been planned.

The San Clemente celebration this year will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 21 at the curve of Calle Canasta. All are welcome, and organizers ask participants to bring a dish to share.

Information: 949-842-5236

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