Volunteer for December Nights 2017!



During December Nights, the Japanese Friendship Garden entrance plaza turns into a pop-up restaurant that's run by our staff and volunteers. Between our famed yakisoba chefs, assembly crew, cashiers, drinks handlers and more, we wow the crowds with quick service and delicious foods. It's a thrilling way to knock out community service hours and make some new friends in the process!

Are you ready to join our team of volunteers in running an exciting, fast-paced yakisoba restaurant? Sign up below! 


Thank you so much for choosing to volunteer at December Nights! The JFG is extremely grateful for each and every volunteer taking time out of their busy schedules to assist us in our grand quest to serve hundreds of pounds of yakisoba. We hope you enjoy your experience with us!

December Nights is a two-day festival that spans the entirety of Balboa Park and involves a variety of food booths, performances, gorgeous holiday decor and more! This year, it takes place on Friday, December 1st and Saturday, December 2nd. An estimated 350,000 guests are expected to attend this year over the course of both days. Visit the official December Nights webpage to learn more.

The Japanese Friendship Garden's yakisoba booth is one cog in the giant machine that is December Nights, but we still rely on large numbers of volunteers to ensure that we're able to deliver food to our waiting guests smoothly and efficiently. This is a high-intensity, fast-paced volunteer experience. You'll be on your feet for the full 5-6 hours of your shift. Eat well and rest well prior to your shift - and you'll have the time of your life!


GETTING TO THE FESTIVAL IS DIFFICULT, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE. December Nights is notorious for creating enormous traffic jams on both days and we highly recommend getting dropped off by an Uber/Lyft driver or a friend/family member. Public transportation is also an option. Otherwise, a number of remote parking lots with shuttles leading into Balboa Park are also being arranged by the City of San Diego. There is very little parking available within Balboa Park, and surrounding streets will be similarly occupied.

Volunteer Check-In/Out:

The Japanese Friendship Garden is located at 2215 Pan American Rd E. Volunteers should plan to check in at the BACK GATE of the garden, located just behind the Organ Pavilion (see map below). There will be signs along our fences indicating the direction of the check-in area.

December Nights 2017 Layout Map.jpg


Please check your shift information at the JFG Signup.com link. You will receive an automated reminder two days prior to your shift that will include the position name, date and time. We ask that all volunteers are flexible in moving from position to position depending on volunteer needs. Volunteers are permitted to sign up for one shift per day, even if they plan to arrive early or stay past the end of their shift.


All volunteers are required to sign a liability waiver upon arrival. IF YOU ARE UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE, A PARENT/GUARDIAN MUST SIGN THE WAIVER AS WELL. You may find a blank copy of the waiver at this link here. Please download and bring a hard copy on the day of your shift.


If you need to cancel your shift, notify Sara Shah at volunteer@niwa.org as soon as possible, as well as removing yourself from your position on Signup.com. Please try to commit to your shift as much as possible. We understand that emergencies and last-minute cancellations are inevitable, but this event relies heavily on its volunteers. No volunteers, no yakisoba booth!


The JFG is happy to work with small or large volunteer groups. Please email Sara Shah at volunteer@niwa.org for sign-up instructions.


  • Each volunteer will have a 20-minute lunch break. Yakisoba will NOT be provided, but hot food, snacks and water will be available. Water bottles will not be provided, but a water cooler will be. We highly recommended bringing your own labeled water bottle.
  • Volunteers who require letters or signatures for community service hours must sign in and out to receive credit. Otherwise, we cannot verify that you completed your hours.
  • Dress in layers! San Diego evenings in particular can get chilly. Wear simple, comfortable clothes that you don't mind getting dirty.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet for the entirety of your shift. Be prepared to walk and possibly run plenty!
  • Personal belongings may be stored in the volunteer check-in and rest area, but the JFG is not responsible for theft.
  • We encourage volunteers to explore other booths and performances at December Nights, but not during their shifts or lunch breaks. Please plan to attend the festival itself before or after your shift.

If you have any questions or need special accommodations, feel free to contact the volunteer coordinator Sara Shah at volunteer@niwa.org. Thank you so much for choosing to volunteer with the JFG - see you all in December!

Banner Photo Credit: Yasuhiro Fujiki