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Holiday by the Bay kicks off in downtown San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- Holiday by the Bay officially kicked off in downtown San Diego Saturday night outside the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.

People from all over the world attended the first night of the second annual event. After a presentation and ribbon cutting attendees enjoyed food, drinks, music and even got a surprise visit from Santa Clause himself.

“It is absolutely amazing. It is absolutely the way to start the holiday season,” Beth McNeill said.

This years attractions include a life-size gingerbread house, a mini golf course and an ice skating rink.

This year's program benefits military families. For every ice skating ticket bought $1 will go to USO San Diego.

Holiday by the Bay will run through January 1.

Special events will take place during that time.