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News 8 Throwback: San Diego Christmas memories from 1966

Leave today behind and take a trip with us on TV 8’s time machine to see what Christmas was like in San Diego 55 years ago!

SAN DIEGO — We’re delighted to show you what Christmas was like 55 years ago in San Diego. Beautifully restored, our December 1966 film is a window into a world long gone. All of the News 8 reels were untouched and haven’t been seen since. 

Color film was introduced in April 1966 so it must have been very exciting to see Santa’s bright red uniform, green Christmas trees, and all the bright colors of the season for the first time. Black and white film was also still in use at what was then called TV 8. 

Leave today behind and take a trip with us on TV 8’s time machine.

Regis Philbin talks to holiday shoppers in Downtown San Diego

Legendary broadcaster Regis Philbin worked for TV 8 in the late 1950s and 1960s.

On Dec. 21, 1966, Regis asked shoppers a tough question — should Christmas come twice a year? Many people were a bit confused by the question and some were flustered. An elderly, elegant woman at the end summed it up — “It’s too commercialized, I think we should take more time to consider what Christmas really means—it isn’t the giving of gifts…the definition of the word—it is the Christ Mass…it’s the feast of Christ.”

San Diego post office ahead of Christmas

Two days before Christmas 1966, TV 8's George Lewis was at the post office to see how they were handling the holiday rush. San Diego’s postmaster provided details about the busy season and said it was starting to wind down. 

Postmaster Ralph Colonell said since Dec. 5 they had processed approximately 24 million pieces of mail and had over 550,000 incoming parcels for delivery in San Diego. He was very proud of the work his facility was doing and he was happy that San Diegans mailed items early and used ZIP codes. 

Downtown San Diego on Christmas Eve 

Stores in Downtown San Diego were doing brisk eleventh-hour business on Christmas Eve 1966. At 5th and Broadway, policemen were trying their best to iron out the last-minute melee. TV 8’s George Lewis managed to get a few shoppers to slow down long enough for an interview. Folks he talked to seemed unfazed and were taking care of business—probably why they chatted with George. Hopefully, they will see themselves now, 55 years later.

A menagerie of holiday events across San Diego

 San Diegans were getting into the Christmas spirit and TV 8 was at many events capturing the excitement. This reel has home decorating contest winners, Santa Claus in Carlsbad, Holiday on Ice, and much more. News 8 anchor Marcella Lee read our original scripts in 2021 for this awesome mashup of Christmas stories.

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