HUNTINGTON BEACH "Nice to see you, that's so ugly."
This was among the greetings on Friday morning as about 30 Huntington Beach moms gathered for their annual holiday party.
For this party, the sentiment wasn't rude; it was one of the highest compliments.
The moms, most with kids at Eader Elementary School, rode their bikes from Huntington Beach Fire Station 4 to the Longboard Restaurant and Pub on Main Street for their annual ugly sweater party.
"Our kids forbid us to wear these on campus when we dropped them off this morning," said event organizer Shelly Stately. "We had to run home and change."
A sweater with a sparkly Santa Claus, another covered with red and green bows and ornaments, and one representing Hanukkah with several dreidels and a lighted menorah sewn to the front were among the favorites.
About 15 moms participated in the event last year, which was put together "just for fun," Stately said.
The number of moms doubled this year and the group tacked on a charitable cause to their fun. Each participant was asked to bring a toy for the fire department's Spark of Love drive.
"What better way to get more toys?" Stately said. "I think we can grow it every year."
The moms dropped off their toys before taking to the beachfront boardwalk along Pacific Coast Highway and riding up Main Street.
They had brunch, laughed, showed off their sweaters and gave an enthusiastic "cheers" to the holiday season.
"It's a nice day off for all of us moms," Stately said.
The women wearing the top ugly sweaters paraded through the Longboard and the pub's patrons helped declare a winner.
Christine Lyng took the top honor and got to wear the coveted medal, an eclectic ornament necklace made up of bits and pieces of sweaters from last year's events.
Lyng bought her vest at Wal-Mart but her most prized feature was her homemade Santa hat, which was lined with a plastic wreath and adorned with hanging ornaments and tiny metallic presents.
"I was very deliberate in the dollar store," she said. "My kids had to approve it. They ran around the house to make sure the hat would stay on."
She said it must've been her personality that sealed the deal for the ugliest sweater. The ornament balls hanging in her face and serving as the butt of many jokes among the women could have also played a role in her victory.
"I've got lots of balls now," Lyng said holding up the ornament award. "I think it was my enthusiasm that pushed me over the edge. I was dancing, I was singing, there was hugging."
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