Christmas in the Park returns to downtown San Jose

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in San Jose's Plaza de Cesar Chavez.

Friday, Volunteers and vendors put the finishing touches on Christmas in the Park, an annual holiday tradition downtown for more than 35 years.

The attraction, which attracted more than 650,000 visitors last winter, is expected to draw even larger crowds this year.

RELATED: Bay Area tree lightings, holiday celebrations

Christmas in the Park kicks off Friday evening with a tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. and will remain open daily from 9 a.m. to midnight through Jan. 7, 2018. Organizers are extending the event's run to coincide with the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center.

Christmas in the Park is a non-profit organization supported through year-round fundraising efforts. With dozens of musical and animated exhibits, as well as more than 500 decorated trees sponsored by schools, businesses and charity organizations, visitors can expect to enter a winter wonderland full of glittering lights and excitement.

This year, Southwest Airlines signed a deal to serve as presenting sponsor and will sponsor again in 2018. The attraction itself is free to the public but relies heavily on community donations and corporate sponsors.

ABC7 News spoke to a number of community members about what draws them to the back to the park every year. Some also shared the meaning behind the Christmas trees they were decorating on site. Hotels and restaurants close by are anticipating large crowds for opening night.

Click here for more videos and stories about Christmas.

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