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Holidays on the Farm brings winter wonderland to Lathrop

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Posted: Friday, December 22, 2017 1:00 pm

In search of a good sledding spot? You could pack up the car and head toward Tahoe in search of snow. Ski resorts hours away in the Sierra often set aside space for sledding fun.

Or you could take a quick drive down to Snow Hill at Dell’Osso Family Farms in Lathrop.

“You go up a moving sidewalk, and it’s a 30-foot, three-story tall hill,” said Susan Dell’Osso, who runs the farm with her husband Ron.

When visitors reach the top, they sled down all three stories on an inner tube.

Snow in Lathrop is a very, very rare occurrence — which is why the Dell’Ossos have two snow machines made in Japan. Together, the machines can produce about 100 tons of snow each day. They supply Snow Hill along with a play area next to the sledding attraction. There, kids can play in the blowing snow.

The sled run and snowy area are just a few of the attractions the Dell’Ossos put together for Holidays on the Farm. They’ve been hosting the winter wonderland at their Lathrop farm for almost 10 years now, but they’re no newcomers to hosting holiday events. The Dell’Osso Pumpkin Maze has been a Halloween tradition since 1997.

Back then, Ron Dell’Osso was searching for a way to share the fun he had growing up on a family farm with the community. He’d always wanted to do a corn maze, so when he and Susan saw a story about a maze in Sonoma County on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, they drove out to see what it involved.

“We said, ‘We could do this!’” Susan Dell’Osso said.

So they did.

While the family’s main goal with the Pumpkin Maze was to have fun, it ended up being a good investment, too, she said. It kept growing — and drawing a bigger crowd — each year, and the event has helped to keep the farm afloat financially even during rough years.

The event has grown farm beyond a sprawling corn maze. Each year, visitors can see the Haunted Castle, ride a Ferris wheel, kiddie coaster or spinning pumpkins, watch pig races, shoot pumpkin blasters, and more.

As the Halloween event expanded, the family began looking toward the winter holidays.

“In 2008, Brian, our son, said, ‘Maybe we should start selling Christmas trees,’” Susan Dell’Osso said.

But the family thought they could do better. They put in the Dell’Osso Express Train, came up with a drive-thru light show, and set up Snow Hill.

In the years since, Holidays on the Farm has expanded to include ice skating, the snow area, shopping and photos with Santa. Lights on the Farm, which can be viewed from a hayride or the Dell’Osso Express, has replaced the drive-thru light show — bad weather kept causing the lights to go out, Dell’Osso said.

Some of the attractions — like the peddle cars, pony rides, ziplines and the kiddie coaster — are shared with Halloween.

It takes about 45 days to make the switch from Halloween to Christmas.

“It’s definitely a labor of love, without a doubt,” Dell’ Osso said. But the family is still having a great time each year, she said.

So do those who head to the farm each Christmas season. Dell’Osso Family Farm saw about 50,000 visitors last December and January, with 25,000 sliding down Snow Hill.

“It’s a lot of families,” she said — often grandparents who bring their kids to sled or ice skate while they watch and enjoy the smiles. Adults show up too, she said, sometimes for a date night or just to channel their inner children.

The Old Country Store offers some shopping opportunities, for parents who want to keep their kids busy while they grab a few more stocking stuffers or unique Christmas decor. The bakery offers dozens of delicious desserts, from the popular fudge to pies, cupcakes and pound cake.

Admission and a few of the attractions are free; others, like the zipline, Dell’Osso Express, hayride, ice skating and Snow Hill, cost money. Prices are listed at the Holidays on the Farm website.

The Dell’Ossos love welcoming the community to the event each year, Dell’Osso said, and so do their employees. They wouldn’t be able to host the event without them, she said.

“Our staff is amazing,” she said.

The family is also grateful for their guests, especially those who come year after year.

“It’s become a tradition for a lot of people,” Dell’Osso said.

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