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7 Things You Can Do on Black Friday (Besides Shop)

Far from the malls on Black Friday, you can go atop Monte Bello Ridge, see the first Nutcracker and get in on some free amusement park rides at the Winter Wonderland in downtown San Jose.

7 Things You Can Do on Black Friday (Besides Shop) 7 Things You Can Do on Black Friday (Besides Shop) 7 Things You Can Do on Black Friday (Besides Shop) 7 Things You Can Do on Black Friday (Besides Shop) 7 Things You Can Do on Black Friday (Besides Shop)

1. Get a Tree, But Not Just Any Tree

Naturally, we don't think of getting a Christmas tree as shopping. It smells too good— and you're doing good. The 25th Annual Los Altos Kiwanis Tree Lot opens Friday, 10 am. to 5 p.m. at the parking lot, off the Foothill Expressway near Arboretum Avenue in south Los Altos. They sell Noble Firs, wreaths, garlands and centerpieces. As they like to say, "It makes a difference where you buy your tree." The majority of the funds the Kiwanis Club uses for its scholarship program, Special Games and other activities, is raised from the sale of these trees.

2. Taste Rare Ridge Vineyard Wines

Ridge Vineyards has a tradition of special Black Friday tastings. This Friday, Ridge says, is the first public opportunity to taste its very rare Historic Vineyard Series. After some research and sleuthing, Ridge has redrawn the lot lines to hew to that of the original families, some who planted vines in the 1890s. Ridge, of course, is not for the casual swiller who thinks a trip up Monte Bello Ridge is a substitute for a touristy Napa weekend, so a $30-per-person pre-paid reservation is in order. For this you get a chance to walk the vineyard and a table tasting of 2009 Klein Cabernet Sauvignon named after Pierre Klein who purchased 160 acres on the ridge area known now as Jinsomare, and 2009 Torre Ranch Merlot, named after John Torre, who purchased vineyard land in 1890.

3. See the First Nutcracker of the Season

So many "Nutcrackers," so little time. Across the Bay Area and in Santa Cruz, there are 23 different Nutcracker productions and rolling performance dates. So if you like this kind of thing, get started early with Pacific Ballet Academy's version, only performed Nov. 25-27. Tickets are $28 for 1 and 4 p.m. performances at the .

4. Witness the San Jose Tree Lighting, see Christmas in the Park:

The Tree lighting ceremony kicks everyting off at 5:30 p.m. in Plaza de Cesar Chavez. If you don't get to downtown San Jose much, now is the best time to go. Christmas in the Park is what brings 'em downtown night after night: More than 60 animated displays, thousands of glittering lights. Plus you can visit with Santa and hear nightly entertainment. Open until midnight every night through Jan. 1, 2012. Santa is available to see children (and adults). 

5.  Ride the Winter Wonderland Amusements for Free

Also in San Jose, along with Christmas in the Park, there's a family amusement area on Park Avenue, between Market Street and Almaden Boulevard, next to the Tech Museum, is one festive arcade of fun and entertainment. Plus there are  amusement rides stretching down the Paseo de San Antonio between Market Street and First Street.

Rides are free on Friday, November 25th from 4 pm - 7 pm (ONLY)


The is hosting a chance opportunity to play a life-size game of Monopoly that will benefit . Many area churches, from Palo Alto to Los Altos to Morgan Hill have participated in fundraising over the past year. The church expects around 100 spectators will watch the game, and invites the public to drop by during the game that begins at 9 a.m. and could possibly go 12 hours.

7. Donate a Coat While Watching an American Idol Finalist Perform

James Durbin, the "American Idol" finalist from Santa Cruz, will kick off the Santana Row shopping center's seventh annual One Warm Coat drive on Black Friday. Yes, it's at a mall, but what better place to shun mass consumerism? Durbin will be signing albums at 10 a.m. and begin performing at noon. Those who wish to donate new or gently used coats can do so at the Oak Tree Lounge in front of Pinkberry. In return for donors' generosity, the shopping center is offering complimentary lawn chairs bearing the Santana Row logo.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report

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