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Photos: After a Decade with no Holiday Party, Capo VW Becomes a Winter Wonderland

With employees living so far away, the annual tradition ceased 10 years ago. As of Sunday, it's back.

An old tradition became new again Sunday.

It’s probably a statement about how expensive it is to live in South Orange County, but one local business stopped offering holiday parties 10 years ago because most of the employees were not locals.

“People just aren't excited about making that long drive a sixth day in a week,” said Miles Brandon, owner of Capistrano Volkswagen.

Brandon bought the dealership in 1997, and for the first few years, he could only get about 50 percent participation in the holiday parties and company picnics, he said. So eventually, he just stopped having them.

“With the high cost of housing in the area, many employees commute through tough traffic well over an hour to get to work. As a result, fewer and fewer employees desired to drive back to San Juan Capistrano for a company event over the weekend and deal with traffic again,” Brandon said.

The likely conclusion is to say it was the economy that did the merriment in, but Brandon said his dealership actually bucked the trend, with new car sales up 121 percent since 2007. It was just that formidable drive getting in the way.

But after so many years of party deprivation, in their polite way of protest – through an employee survey – the workers said they want to party like it’s 1999 – better than in 1999, Brandon said.

After additional polling of staff, the Top 3 ideas were committed to for 2012

  • More free food (free lunch has been served to the entire store more than 16 times this year,
  • Night at a Padres (busses took about 150 to the top of the Western Metal Supply building in Petco Park for a Padres game on May 5t that included an “all you can eat BBQ buffet)
  • The company holiday party

The holiday party, themed “A Winter Wonderland,” was Sunday. And about 78 percent of the employees made the drive back to San Juan Capistrano to celebrate, Brandon said.

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