Downtown San Jose preps shorter than usual Christmas in the Park event

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Downtown San Jose. Organizers for Christmas in the Park began prepping Plaza de Cesar Chavez for the shortest Christmas season yet.

The time-honored tradition is in its 39th year. Christmas in the Park usually opens to the public the day after Thanksgiving and closes on Jan. 1. This season, the opening day will remain the same, but the celebration will end Christmas night.

"It's something that San Jose lives by. Something that we love to enjoy," said San Jose resident Victor Mantilla.

"It kind of makes you feel like, you know, it's Christmas," Mark Ramsbey from Sunnyvale said.

"We don't want to miss it!" Mai Nguyen exclaimed.

Good news, if you visit before Christmas night, you won't.

Christmas in the Park is punting its usual Jan. 1 end date to make space for events leading up to the college football championship game.

"It is going to be transformed into a college campus atmosphere," Christmas in the Park Executive Director Jason Minsky said. "So they need to activate the park."

While the game will be played miles away at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, the plaza will be the place to be for football fans, team officials and the media.

"It's something that maybe the city can benefit from," San Jose resident Victor Mantilla said. "Levi's is right there, it's still fairly new."

Referring back to Christmas in the Park, Mantilla told ABC7 News, "This has history, so it's bittersweet."

The bright green turf across the plaza is there to prepare the ground for new sod that will be put into place once Christmas in the Park closes.

Executive Director Minsky said there will be more bells and whistles this Christmas in the Park season.

Southwest Airlines signed on last year as a presenting sponsor and will provide an upgraded Southwest lounge for visitors. The new addition will allow visitors to charge their phones and give kids a space to write letters to Santa.

Minsky said the 50-foot tree will be equipped with programmable lights for a constant Christmas light show.

As usual, companies, groups and organization will be able to decorate trees. However, the trees will come from Lowe's instead of Orchard Supply Hardware, which is closing down.

"We'll just have to remember to come early," Mark Ramsbey said. "Because I know a lot of people do come between Christmas and New Years, like a tradition."

To learn more about Christmas in the Park, which will be open from Nov. 23 through Dec. 25, 2018, visit this website.
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