The Venice Chamber of Commerce is hosting a virtual sign lighting this week. Courtesy image.

From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 5, the Venice Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Holiday Sign Lighting virtually, ensuring everyone can eat, drink, and be merry from the comfort of their homes.

The event will be livestreamed at Facebook.com/VeniceChamber and hosted by Emcee and long-time Venetian Mike Newhouse. Event highlights include sign lighting by a local celebrity resident, presentations to the winners of the 2020 My Venice holiday poster contest and an award honoring the 2020 Venice Local Hero.

“The Holiday Sign Lighting very simply brings people together. It has been and continues to be an incredible way for everyone to enjoy much needed holiday cheer, and to end the year with smiles and joy,” said George Francisco, president of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, and event producer for the Holiday Sign Lighting.

This year actor Jon Huertas will do the honors of pulling the symbolic switch causing the iconic Venice sign to burst into festive green and red lights.

Huertas currently stars as Miguel on NBC’s critically acclaimed series “This Is Us” and is also known for playing as Detective Javier Esposito on ABC’s dramedy “Castle” and Sergeant Espera in HBO’s mini series “Generation Kill.” He has lived in Venice for over twenty years and is a co-owner of Clutch restaurant on Lincoln Blvd.

Though the event will look a little different this year, organizers feel it’s more important than ever to get in the holiday spirit and celebrate the creativity and resilience of local businesses.

“The Venice Chamber is a community of small businesses; nearly 3/4 of our Chamber membership are local, single-person operators or have less than 10 employees and the boost a big event like this generates in revenue for them is vital for their business to flourish,” said Francisco.

In the spirit of the season, the Chamber will also take a moment to recognize Jesse Martinez as the 2020 Local Hero for his longtime contribution to the welfare and culture of Venice.

Martinez was born and raised in Venice and has dedicated his life to maintaining and improving the Venice Skatepark. Martinez has spent years steering kids away from gangs and offering them skateboarding as an outlet and community. He is known as an icon and innovator in the art and culture of skateboarding and stands alongside the giants in the sport.

The Chamber will thank Martinez and other locals who have put in work to strengthen and improve the community year after year. Coming at the close of a turbulent year, the event will be a time for joy and celebration of the people and businesses that make Venice a wonderful place to live.

“In years past when we could all join together in one place, the sign lighting block party celebration was a cost-free opportunity to experience the communal energy while enjoying live, world-class entertainment, honoring our unsung heroes, recognizing the artwork of public school kids, and celebrating the tradition of lighting the Venice sign” said Francisco. “This year, everything in the world is obviously different, but we hope that by continuing this tradition in the virtual world, that it still brings joy to all who participate.”

Clara@smdp.com