Magical Christmas Party on Candy Cane Lane

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Fairy tale holidays of Freddie, Lisa Molina

Let’s face it, Freddie and Lisa Molina know how to throw a magical holiday party.
Each holiday season in La Palma, they say Dallas Drive becomes an impromptu Candy Cane Lane with Christmas lights and bonfires in lit every driveway.
“It’s been a tradition for years,” said Lisa Molina, and in fact, she and her husband bought their “dream house” on a corner lot on that same street as soon as it became available in 2002 because they longed to participate in the tradition.
“I’ve lived in Orange County all my life; I’ve and dreamed of living on this block,” said Molina. She was raised in OC and owned a home in Buena Park and wanted an upgrade. “I knew this block did this tradition every year and we used to cruise around it when my son Cory played little league.”
They are Orange County natives, but always wanted to live where they do now.
Molina was raised by a dad from New York, Salvatore Benanti, who met his bride, Rosemary during his military service in England. He was Italian and brought Rosemary back to the USA to begin their life together in New York’s Italian community.
Though her mom grew up in England, Molina said Rosemary dreamed of being in Hollywood and raising a family in California. “She kept bugging my dad to move to California,” said Molina, so eventually, Rosemary convinced Sal to leave New York’s Italian community and come out West.
Their first child was born when they lived in Hollywood, but they later moved to Orange County by the time Lisa was born and raised. Once in Orange County, their lives were always filled with festive occasions.
“My parents always had a party, no matter what holiday it was,” said Molina. “So I grew up knowing this is how you have to do it and I raised my son Cory, now 32, to be the same. We’re all decorators and I’m very detailed into it.”
Molina runs an international safety video business headquartered in Anaheim, and her husband Freddie is a tech executive. Sweethearts since their early teens, they met in high school. She was 15 and Freddie was 14 and Molina said Freddie “has been a king and a prince to me ever since.”
So, every year at Christmas time, there is an epic holiday block party in La Palma. Naturally, the Molinas go all out.
“Keep in mind the entire block does this it’s not just me,” said Molina. “We have the biggest party of all, but all my neighbors we all get together and that night we invite family, friends and clients over and everyone puts bonfires on their driveways and I’m just the one that goes crazy with the red carpet and all the characters running around.”
“On the red carpet, I have Elvis, Marilyn and Joan Rivers (impersonators),” said Molina. She said for arriving guests, Joan Rivers walks up and asks the same type of irreverent questions the late comedienne was known for asking.
Elvis plays Elvis and that’s enough said. The Marilyn impersonator adds the glamour and glitz. They both carouse and entertain.
And since COVID-19 safety protocols are in place, Molina said she not only has sanitizing stations throughout the party, the Molinas had a medical impersonator playing a Dr. Anthony Fauci character who took everyone’s temperature before guests were allowed to enter the red carpet and approach the holiday home.
“That was kind of the difference this year,” she said.
“I also had sanitizing stations, where you go and spray your hands so guests would feel safe at my house,” said Molina. “Since safety is my business, I figured that would be a good idea.” “A lot of people were thankful and said to me ‘thank you for doing that.’”
To smooth their way once they were safely on the red carpet, however, Molina said guests were greeted with Dixieland Jazz as an authentic jazz band welcomed them with soothing holiday blues.
“When they entered my home,” said Molina, “it was magical. I did detailed decorations throughout the home,” she said.
Her guests were also entertained by “strolling magicians” like Penn and Teller impersonators and they were served their beverage of choice by “house bartenders.” “You have to keep up the holiday cheer,” she said.
Then, as guests finally made their way throughout the extensive, exclusively decorated winter wonderland, they eventually arrived in the backyard, where another band, this one a mariachi, played to welcome them.
The guests ate from an all-you-can-eat taco bar. Later, a local restaurant staff showed up with homemade lasagna.
“That is really nice,” she said, “because about 10 p.m., people get hungry again.”
To end the evening, Molina said she had a phenomenal performance of flamethrowers. “I had met them at a beach earlier in the year and simply asked them to come. It was awesome.”
“I met these guys on a camping trip in Pismo Beach. They were out on the sand practicing. And I was like oh my God, I need to have you guys at my party, and they said, ‘Lisa, we will be there.’”
“So they’ve been coming every year for three years now,” said Molina, “and they do a 20 minute deal and that’s the encore, almost making fire look like snow.”
“All I can say is that the Molina Christmas party is the you party don’t want to miss,” said party goer Emily Gray. “Without a doubt, it is the best party we have ever been to,” she said.
“We were in awe as made our way up the red carpet,” she said. “We will be there next year without a doubt. Beautiful and breathtaking,” she said.
Her husband Grant, agreed. “The Molina’s were amazing. It was awesome,” he said.
Molina said there are no complaints from the neighbors because they are partying too hard. “We have the biggest party, but my neighbors are wonderful,” said Molina. She said the tradition is so well known that that the city of La Palma closes the street for the evening so guests can safely walk to any of the parties.
And surprisingly, said Molina, this was their biggest party yet.
“I thought, oh, it might be slow because of COVID, but it was exactly the opposite. People wanted to get out. They wanted to see Christmas. It was probably 200 people crammed into my house and it was kind of neat,” she said.
“People want to get out and live again,” she said.
With her son Cory preparing to take the Molina party tradition into the next generation, Lisa said she always reminds him that “hard work does make fairy tales come true.”
For childhood sweethearts Freddie and Lisa, their fairy tale has indeed come true, not that they need any special reason to throw a party at Christmas.
“It was truly magical,” she said.

Magical Christmas Party on Candy Cane Lane