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DECEMBER 7, 2018

Magical Toys A supplement to the Gilroy Dispatch & Morgan Hill Times

Morgan Hill shop makes for fun memories P2


Less screens, more fun Morgan Hill’s Thinker Toys offers a specialized experience

DECEMBER 7, 2018




he look of wonder and pure joy on a child’s face when presented with that long-awaited gift is nothing short of priceless, but where do you go to find that perfect gift? That’s easy; just head to Thinker Toys.

Founded in 1969, Thinker Toys, one of the last vestiges of brick and mortar toy stores, has locations in Carmel, Monterey and Morgan Hill, at 311 Vineyard Town Center. The small toy store chain is a family affair, with John Horner in the title role of president. Holly Horner, John’s daughter, is vice president. “I run the front end of the

business, so I do the day to day operations,” Holly said. Holly is also the primary buyer for the company, and selecting the toys for all three locations falls to her, which she admits is the favorite part of her job. “It’s really incredible; we have three stores so we go through a lot of toys,” Holly said. “At any given time, we have 6,000 to

INSPIRATION From kites and rockets, to science kits and books, Thinker Toys helps create lasting memories.

Photos by Holly Horner

working the cash drawer. It also provided her with a unique skill. “I am the fastest gift wrapper the business has,” Holly said with a grin. “I can gift wrap a box in about 30 seconds. I have gift wrapped hula hoops; I’ve gift wrapped 6-foot-long kites.” Holly’s early working experience, beginning at age 12, also instilled in her a true sense of community.

“I remember how cool it was to get to feel like I was important... and I was a part of the downtown business community even though I was so small,” Holly said. “It was a really unique way to grow up.” Thinker Toys’ partnership with the community continues to be a staple of the local business. “We’re really all about giving back to the community, and we’re

really proud to be in Morgan Hill,” said Sarah Murillo, manager of the Morgan Hill store. “We donate raffle prizes to the local schools and local charities in town.” Murillo is committed to her job and loves being a part of the Thinker Toys family. After almost three years in her role as manager, she still sees her job as “a really amazing experience.” ➝4

DECEMBER 7, 2018

10,000 skews in stock, individual items, depending on the time of year.” Holly, who was home-schooled by John and her mother Ann, was introduced to the toy world at an early age as part of her education. The hands-on experience of working alongside her father provided valuable experience in interacting with customers and




for the

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ALL AGES Thinker Toys is stocked with items to please a variety

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of tastes and interests for kids in different age ranges.

“For one, I’m surrounded by toys, which is just my love and brings joy to my life, and then I just love our customers and the community that we’re in.” Murillo believes Thinker Toys’ customers are provided a “specialized experience.” “Everyone who works here loves what they do and we offer a special experience to everyone who walks through the door,” Murillo said. “That’s what we’re all about: that wonder, that ‘wow’ moment when your kid comes in, the magic of a toy store.” Kids aren’t the only ones who experience that wonder and wow, adults do, too. Gilroy resident

Christina Solano recalls her first visit to the store over nine months ago. “They had such a wide variety of books and really diverse topics,” Solano said. “They had stuff on immigration, very current issues, and things that people don’t really think about that kids have to deal with.” Solano is happy to support Thinker Toys, an independent local business, and she encourages everyone she knows to do the same. “This is a local treasure, I tell everybody about this (store), I want to make sure everybody knows,” ➝ 12 Solano said.



of History Air Museum honors the Wright Brothers on Dec. 8.









Join the WIngs of History Air Museum as it honors the Wright Brothers with an event about their life and contribution to aviation. Attendees will enjoy a presentation including a docent tour to the museum full scale replica of the Wright Flyer. Admission is $9 general and $6 for museum members. Saturday, Dec. 8, 1-3pm at 12777 Murphy Ave. RSVPs are required by emailing museum1903@gmail. com with the number of seats to be reserved.

Head to Downtown Morgan Hill’s First Friday Art Walk for a selfguided tour through downtown restaurants and shops to see the latest art exhibits. New artists are showcased every other month and all art venues are free and open to the public. Friday, Dec. 7, 11am-7pm in Downtown Morgan Hill. Attend the Art Walk Reception from 6-8pm at the GVA Cafe, 17400 Monterey Road. Visit

Get in the holiday spirit with music as South Valley Symphony and conductor Anthony Quartuccio present Holiday Hit Parade. Experience winter themes and holiday classics a the symphony performs selections from the Nutcracker Ballet, the theme from Polar Express, “A Winter Landscape” by Alexander Glazunov and more. Celebrate with the Symphony Sunday, Dec. 9, 4pm at Gavilan College Theater, 5055 Santa Teresa Blvd. For more information, visit

Experience music, stories and folklore celebrating the season as Four Shillings Short plays traditional music from the Celtic lands, Medieval and Renaissance Europe, India and the Americas. Enjoy a wide-ranging musical journey at this Celtic Winter Concert, featuring a fantastic collection of world instruments including hammered dulcimer, mandolins, sitar, banjo, charango, doumbek and more. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 7-8pm at Morgan Hill Library, 660 W. Main Ave. For information, visit

DECEMBER 7, 2018




Curt Hentschke

HOLIDAY CHEER The Cycle Guy rounds up his best rides to get hungry cyclists through the winter.

Happy New Gear! Twelve Days of Bike Christmas

DECEMBER 7, 2018

F 6

our packs of tubes, three gel packs, two brake pad sets and a bicycle under my tree! As you can see, I’m dreaming of a Bike Christmas. We’ve finally made it to December! Is your cycling wish list filled out? Quick, send your designated shopper to the local bike shop! Make it happen! Have you been extra blessed this year? Consider donating a new or gently used bicycle (and/or gear) to your local charity. Share the love; share the thrill; share the ride! Wanna join in some in some seasonal cyclocross insanity? As a spectator or a rider, you can’t go wrong at


the Coyote Valley Cross in Morgan Hill, on Dec. 8 and 9. Sun, rain or hurricane, it’s bound to be a muddy mess…just the way we like it! Penultimately, Critical Christmas returns to Monterey’s Custom House Plaza on Dec. 23, for its 20th—I kid you not—year! Festoon your bikes with as many blinking holiday lights and as much yuletide finery as possible, then gather at 5:44. Revelers roll out at 6pm and generally finish by 7pm. Have fun, stay safe, and be a jolly good ambassador for cycling! And finally, ending in that long-standing Spoking My Mind tradition...

I wish you a Happy Hanukkah, I wish you a Special Kwanzaa, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Gear!

SAVE THE DATES 12/8-9–Coyote Valley Cross– Morgan Hill– 12/23–Critical Christmas–Monterey 2/23–Almond Blossom Century– Ripon– 2/23–Pedaling Paths to Independence–Linden–

3/9–Solvang Century– 3/16–El Granada 200k– 4/11-14–Sea Otter Classic– 4/13–Tierra Bella–Gilroy– Curt “Cycle Guy” Hentschke has pedaled over 60,000 miles of South Valley and San Benito County trails. Send your cycle celebrations to Check for last-minute changes before attending.

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DECEMBER 7, 2018

Witness a holiday ballet filled with snow, toys and excitement at The Gift: A Nutcracker Story, presented by South Valley Dance Arts. This magical production tells the story of how The Nutcracker came to be and stars a cast of children and families from the South County. Celebrate the wonder of the season with this exciting and heartwarming show Friday, Dec. 7, 7pm and Saturday, Dec. 8, 1:30pm and 6:30pm at the Ann Sobrato Performing Arts Center, 401 Burnett Ave, Morgan Hill. For more information, visit


GILROY EVENING EXPERIENCE Celebrate the wonder of the season during Gilroy Gardens’ Gardens@ Night Holiday. Experience Gilroy

Gardens’ 26 acres of majestic trees and gardens come alive with twinkling light displays and special holiday treats around every turn. Ice skate under the stars, visit with Santa, ride favorite rides,

find crafts in the Marketplace and more. Friday-Sunday nights, Dec. 7-9, 4-9pm at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, 3050 Hecker Pass Highway. For more information visit HOLIDAY COMEDY Head to the theater and enjoy the heartwarming holiday comedy Mom’s Gift, the annual fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research presented by Limelight Actors Theater. In this comedy with a heart, Mom has been dead for 11 months and shows up at her husband’s birthday party as a ghost with a mission to accomplish a task to earn her wings. Enjoy door

prizes and special surprises along with this wonderful show for the holidays through Dec. 8 at The Gilroy Center for the Arts, 7341 Monterey St. For information and performance schedule, visit HOLIDAY BOUTIQUE Eat, shop, drink and be merry at Fortino Winery’s 15th annual Holiday Boutique featuring two full days of shopping and sipping. Enjoy more than 20 local artisans and vendors, live music, awesome crafts and of course, Fortino wines. Find the perfect gifts just in time for Christmas at this free event. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, 11am-5pm each day at

Mount Madonna School



Fortino Winery, 4525 Hecker Pass Highway. For information, visit

OPEN HOUSE Cat lovers are invited to celebrate the holiday season with Town Cats, a nonprofit cat shelter working to restore health and find homes for homeless cats. Attendees will enjoy refreshments, holiday festivities and guaranteed kitty fun. Bring along a gift or donation for the cats and celebrate the holidays Friday, Dec. 14, 5-8pm at Town Cats of Morgan Hill, 195 San Pedro Ave. For more information, visit

Enjoy Guglielmo’s 30th annual Christmas at the Winery, featuring award winning wines, holiday carolers and hot mulled wine. Guests will have the opportunity to browse the huge selection of holiday decor and Christmas items for gift ideas for everyone on their list. Experience Christmas at the Winery Saturday and Sunday Dec. 8 and 9, 10am-5pm daily at Guglielmo Winery, 1480 East Main Ave, Morgan Hill. Event admission is $10. For more information, visit

MORGAN HILL OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY Photographers of every level are invited to learn the secrets of outdoor photography and take to take better pictures at Picture Perfect Outdoor Photography. Join photographer Ron Horii and learn about photo composition, lighting, editing, advanced tricks, how to get the most out of a camera and more. Wednesday, Dec. 12, 10am at Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, 1700 Monterey Road. For tickets and information, visit

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA CHRISTMAS RACE Bring the whole family to the Seventh

Annual Christmas Double Road Race benefiting the American Red Cross and enjoy a fun Christmas event. Double Racing consists of two-stage running events; participants run the longer stage, take a halftime break and then run the second stage. There will be four Double Racing events, including a Kids’ Double and two open races. All participants will receive a Santa hat and official long-sleeve shirt, and finishers will receive a medal. Saturday, Dec. 15, 7am at 406 Second St. For more information and registration, visit ➝ 11

DECEMBER 7, 2018

FUNDRAISING EXHIBITION The Gilroy Center for the Arts presents “Small Works Salon,” a fundraising exhibition to benefit the Center’s After School Art Program. The Small Works Salon is an exciting small art exhibition featuring works from emerging and established artists in Gilroy and neighboring communities and will be on display through Dec. 12. Entrance to the gallery is always free, Tuesday through Friday, 2-5pm and Saturday, 11am-2pm at the Gilroy Center for the Arts, 7341 Monterey

St. For more information, visit

Experience Mount Madonna School’s performance of Honk! Jr., a modern adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s 1844 fable, The Ugly Duckling. Featuring a heartwarming story that addresses struggles around acceptance, this hilarious, yet deeply moving production will be performed by middle school students taking the stage for matinee performances Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, 2pm each day at Mount Madonna School, 491 Summit Road, Watsonville. For tickets and information, visit



Light ’em up!

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DECEMBER 7, 2018

ROOM 101 Big Payback and Namakubi EC Chingon are just a couple of the sticks offered at Morgan HIll Wine Shop and Cigar Company.


Morgan Hill Wine Shop and Cigar CompanyHaven for wine connoisseurs and cigar aficionados By MARY BARTHOLOMEW


aking a draw on a cigar in a sports lounge is a rare opportunity in Northern California. The Morgan Hill Wine Shop and Cigar Company is one of a handful of lounges where novices and aficionados can legally relax and enjoy a cigar. The sports lounge offers a dozen local and imported beers on tap and even more bottled beers to choose from. The lounge comes equipped with an impressive 400-square foot walk-in humidor, which holds over 2,000 “sticks” and cigar lockers for members. Equally impressive is the wine shop adjacent to the lounge which features local, imported and rare wines.

Surprisingly, the time-honored tradition of cigar etiquette still holds true today. General manager Amy Yancey and her staff can help novices navigate the subtle conventions of properly preparing, handling and “tasting” the cigar so customers can have an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. With the holiday season fast approaching, Yancey says she and her staff are on hand to help take out the guesswork of gift-giving. “Our staff is very knowledgeable about what we have to help pinpoint the right cigars for someone to make it a special, very unique gift,” she says. “If they happened to be a customer, we can

look up their history to see what they have smoked.” Authentic cigars from Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and Ecuador have a price range to meet everyone’s budget. Topping the list is Opus X Tauros (The Bull) and gift sets from Prometheus, Opus X cigar case with limited edition cigars presented in a humidor box. Although it’s open to the public, this holiday season consider giving a membership, which has its perks—discounts for locker rental, purchases and advanced access to promotions. Gift certificates make great gifts. Torch lighters, cutters, punch and carriers make exceptional gifts. Desktop and table humidors complete the cigar experience which act like banks, securing your investment. Morgan Hill Wine Shop and Cigar Company is one of the few authorized U.S. retailers of luxury brand S.T. Dupont. Originally an atelier to French Royalty, today it is a purveyor of luxury leather goods, lighters, pens and bespoke goods. If they don’t carry a specific item, Yancey says, they can make a special order. The wine shop offers a separate entrance for non-smokers to enjoy access to fine wines. Local wineries like Martin Ranch, Solis and Fortino are just a few featured. Rare wine selection includes Opus One, Silver Creek and Insignia. Elusive wines like Opus One tops the list at $375 a bottle. BV Private Reserve Beaulieu is also highly desired. The company’s Dec. 12 Christmas party is fast approaching, a free catered event for members will feature a cigar and wine event as well as a juried home baked dessert contest. Swag prize will be awarded for the best tasting dessert. Morgan Hill Wine Shop and Cigar Company at 16375 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill and follow them on Facebook for upcoming events.


9 Benito Oriana Chorale and the Oriana Youth Chorus at this year’s Winter Concert Series, “Season of Light.” Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, $10 for students and free for children under age 12. Concerts will be presented Tuesday, Dec. 11, 7:30pm at Mission San Juan Bautista, 406 Second St, San Juan Bautista, Friday, Dec. 14, 7:30pm at St. Benedict Catholic Church, 1200 Fairview Road, Hollister and Sunday, Dec. 16, 3pm at Christ Fellowship Church, 2066 San Benito St, Hollister. For more information, visit


Join guest artist Edward Rooks for a family-friendly lesson in painting in the great outdoors at Plein Air at Coyote Valley: A 25th Anniversary Event. Attendees are invited to paint the beautiful views and take their paintings home with them. All supplies will be provided, all skill levels are welcome and no experience is required. Saturday, Dec. 8, 10am-noon at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, 550 Palm Ave, Morgan Hill. For information and to register, visit


HOLIDAY CONCERT Join San Jose Wind Symphony for a joyful noise as it celebrates 60 years with the special winter holiday concert, Visions of Sugar Plum Fairies. Enjoy Christmas classics, Hanukkah hits, audience sing-alongs and a rollicking Sleigh Ride. Also enjoy selections from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker performed by young dancers from Ballet Petit. Sunday, Dec. 9, 3pm at McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave. Visit

BOOK SALE The Gilroy Library invites the community to the Friends of the Gilroy Library book sale. All ages are welcome to browse the variety of great reads. Proceeds from purchases go toward supporting the collection and programs at the Gilroy Library. The sale is held on the second Saturday of every month, Dec. 8, 10am-1pm at the Gilroy Library, 350 W. Sixth St, Gilroy. For more information, visit or call 408.842.8207. WINTER CONCERTS Join San

HOLIDAY CAMPFIRE Get into the holiday spirit while being surrounded by nature at Santa and S’mores! A Holiday Campfire. Enjoy a wildlife presentation featuring a live animal, games and prizes, hot apple cider, s’mores and a visit from Santa Claus. Everyone is welcome to enjoy this free event Saturday, Dec. 15, 4-6pm at Alum Rock Park, 15350 Penitencia Creek Road, Log Cabin Picnic Area, San Jose. For information and to register, visit HOLIDAY HAYRIDE Get in the festive spirit while discovering park trivia during a hayride through Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area. The Holiday Hayride Tours will begin at 6pm in the Madrone Campground and will make stops picking up passengers along the way. Bring along a thermos of hot cocoa, a blanket and warm clothing and enjoy this free event. Saturday, Dec. 15, 6pm at

COMIC CON Visit the Salinas Valley Comic Con, now in its fifth year, and celebrate comics, comic books, zines, pop culture and more. The event features an expanded Artists’ Alley, enhanced Game Room, local costuming clubs and popular cosplayers. Other highlights include great toy and comic vendors, food trucks and much more. Enjoy this grassroots celebration of comics Saturday, Dec. 15, 10am-5pm and Sunday, Dec. 16,10am- 4pm at Hartnell College, 411 Central Ave, Salinas. For more information, visit HOLIDAY POSADA Party in the Park Series presents San Ysidro Park Holiday Posada, a free community event for the whole family including live entertainment, arts and crafts and face painting. Also enjoy fun activities for children, pinatas and much more. Saturday, Dec. 22, noon-4pm at San Ysidro Park, 7700 Murray Ave, Gilroy. For more information, visit ENERGY SAVING TOOLKIT Use a library card to check out a free “Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Saving Toolkit” from the Morgan Hill or Gilroy library and learn how to save on energy and water bills, presented by Silicon Valley Energy Watch. The kit features energy and water saving supplies to keep including two LED light bulbs, three low-flow faucet aerators, weather stripping, and more. Also included are tools to borrow to measure appliance energy use, determine heat loss, set refrigerators and freezers to appropriate temperatures, and much more. A guidebook instructs how to install supplies and use the tools, and includes money saving tips. Also enjoy an opportunity to win a smart power strip after using the toolkit and completing a survey. The program runs through the end of the year. For more information, visit

DECEMBER 7, 2018


SANTA SELFIES Take a special holiday picture with Santa at BookSmart. Santa will be in town to pose for selfies with the whole family. Santa is great with shy children, and all ages are encouraged to attend and take photos while shopping for new books and educational toys. Saturday, Dec. 15, 11am-2pm or Saturday, Dec. 22, 2-5pm at BookSmart, 1295 E. Dunne Ave. Suite 120. For more information, call 408.778.6467 or visit

Hollister Hills State Recreation Area, Lower Ranch, 7800 Cienega Road, Hollister. Park entrance fee is $5. For information, email


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WRAPPED UP In addition to its great service and selection, Thinker Toys offers free gift wrapping all year long.

Morgan Hill resident Diana Houghton is another big fan. “This is a really great place to check out unique things,” Houghton said, adding that it’s one of the few places she can find USBORN children’s books. Another reason to turn off the computer and head to Thinker Toys this holiday season, or anytime of the year, is to peruse the incredible selection of imaginative and fun items on display. “Unlike going online, you can touch it, you can feel it, you can make sure it’s cute,” Holly said. According to Beth Griffo, Morgan Hill resident and mother of two, Thinker Toys is also fairly priced. “Which is unique for a small-town

shop; you don’t normally find that,” Griffo said, adding that she believes in “supporting the small shop.” Thinker Toys offers free gift wrapping all year long, and if you need a greeting card, those are available as well. They also have gift cards in all denominations. The Morgan Hill location is open seven days a week; hours of operation are Monday-Thursday, 10am-7pm, Friday-Saturday, 10am-8pm, and Sunday, 11am-5pm, with extended hours throughout the holiday season. Holly hopes everyone will accept her invitation this holiday season. “Stop by, visit us, say hello, no purchase necessary, just let us show you what we have to offer and come play with our toys.”


Jenny Arbizu

PUBLIC GOOD Hazel Hawkins auxilliary board provides for the less fortunate through its two shops serving up used and collectible items.

Doubly delightful

Hazel’s Treasures and Hazel’s Thrift Shop offer twice the fun BY KIMBERLY EWERTZ volunteer services at Hazel Hawkins Hospital. The thrift shop offers a large selection of donated items including children and adult clothing of all sizes, in addition to everyday items, and the inventory is always changing. “There’s always something new when they come in to shop,” volunteer Alice Farnham said. Hazel’s Treasures is filled with collectibles, antiques, crystal, china, upscale jewelry and much

more, and all proceeds from the stores benefit not only the hospital but the community as well. “They do a lot for the community,” Oliveira said, adding that once a month the kids from Hollister’s Chamberlain’s Children Center, an organization supporting at-risk youth, are invited to take part in a day of free shopping. The entire community is invited to attend the auxiliary’s upcoming Christmas boutique on Dec. 8, where shoppers will discover a

wide selection of holiday items for sale. “We have some nice ones because we collect all year long,” Farnham said. Both stores are open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Hours of operation for Hazel’s Thrift Shop are 9am-4pm. Hazel’s Treasures is open 9am-3:30pm. For more information, call 831.638.0526, or visit hazelsthriftshop.

DECEMBER 7, 2018


ontinuing their mission that began more than 60 years ago, Hazel Hawkins Hospital’s auxiliary board provides help to the less fortunate through Hazel’s Thrift Shop and Hazel’s Treasures, located at 340 Hawkins St. in Hollister. Both enterprises are operated by local volunteers. “It’s all run by little whitehaired ladies; nobody is paid here,” said Alice Oliveira, coordinator of


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Friday, December 7