Photo courtesy Ladera Grill Veterans from left: Bruce Henry, Anthony Stafford, John Reed, Rich Ramos, Bill Hiland, and Jim Leslie enjoy a free lunch courtesy of Ladera Grill.

By Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Ladera Grill had a special Veterans Day message for those who served our country: Thank you for your service, and lunch is on us!

As the nation honored Veterans Day Friday, Nov. 10, veterans in Morgan Hill gathered at Ladera Grill for a luncheon treat — anything they wanted on the menu, free of charge. “It’s a small way to express enormous gratitude to our local community of veterans,” said Dan McCranie, who has made his Veterans Day lunch an annual tradition.

On this particular Friday, a number of Morgan Hill vets could be found taking McCranie up on his offer. There was Jim Leslie, a Navy fighter jet pilot and intel officer who served from 1968-1995 and then started his own company. Today he volunteers at the USS Hornet, a former aircraft carrier which is now a museum in Alameda. Mike Withrow served in the Army Corps of Engineers as a second lieutenant after being drafted in 1968 and attending Officer Candidate School. Other diners included Tom Stewart, another Vietnam-era Navy vet, and Francis Nance, who served in the Marines.

“Dan understands how important it is to gather veterans together,” said Nance. Withrow agreed. “I love being able to pick anything from the menu. It makes you feel appreciated.”

Stewart added with a chuckle, “Dan is a down-to-earth guy and encourages us to order whatever we want — I just don’t want to take advantage of him!”

Whether they order the steak and lobster or a chicken sandwich, McCranie wants vets to feel at home, especially on Veterans Day.

South Valley children and families are getting an extra-special holiday gift this year: the new “North Pole Nights” celebration at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. During this immersive experience (on select dates from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31), visitors will step into the wintry wonderland of the North Pole to enjoy favorite traditions along with all-new adventures and festive food and drinks.

A new live musical show, The Magic of Santa, plays multiple times each night at the Lakeside Amphitheater and introduces jolly characters Rudy the Polar Bear, Skitter the Mouse, and Tinsel the Christmas Tree. Guests can sing and dance to help everyone find their wish for Santa — and maybe even make some Christmas magic of their own.

Morgan Hill Life Publisher Marty Cheek felt inspired to write a poem honoring a beloved community tradition — Scout Troop 799/2799’s Magic Ship of Christmas. For fun (and possibly a $100 gift certificate to Rosy’s at the Beach), he encourages local musicians to try their hand at writing a melody using the poem’s words as lyrics.

“There have been lots of holiday poems turned into beloved songs,” he said. “Who knows what some talented South Valley music maker might do?”


Santa’s Magic Ship of Christmas

Photo courtesy Boy Scout Troop 799
Santa Claus and his helpers prepared the Magic Ship of Christmas before a recent parade.

Santa’s magic ship is a festive sight,

Sailing to our town on Christmas Eve night!

With colorful lights strung out all aglow,

It sails straight through heavy winter storms’ snow.


Santa’s magic ship is a Yuletide delight!

His enchanted vessel sails in tonight!

Reindeer won’t fly but this ancient boat will,

It carries Santa as carolers trill!


That wonderful ship brings St. Nick our way,

To lighten up our hearts on Christmas Day!

When he steps off with glad cheer and goodwill,

His magic smile will warm up winter’s chill!


Santa waves greetings from his Christmas ride,

Grinning at tots who gaze at him wide-eyed.

His magic ship will make our spirits bright,

A hometown tradition, oh what a sight!


Santa’s magic ship, led by Scouts in line,

Comes at the parade’s end – it’s right on time!

With a rainbow glow and St. Nick aboard,

The whole town cheers as the carolers chord!


Then Santa Claus departs his Christmas ride,

Helps light our tree with community pride!

The mayor counts down and the lights come ablaze,

Our hearts soar high for happy holidays!


Santa’s magic ship is a true treasure,

It fills our small town with festive pleasure!

Merry memories made year after year,

Santa’s magic ship brings Christmastime cheer!


Send a Youtube video link or MP3 audio of your performed song to Marty at [email protected]