'Great tradition': SJ's Christmas in the Park welcomes back guests to beloved downtown event

After a pandemic pause in 2020, locals say the downtown tradition's return is a refreshing nod to life getting back to normal.

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Saturday, November 27, 2021
SJ's 'Christmas in the Park' returns after pandemic pause
Christmas in the Park has returned to Downtown San Jose after taking a pandemic pause, and organizers say it's better than ever.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The countdown is on. Today we cranked up the Christmas music, grabbed our favorite festive clothing and officially started the holiday season in San Jose.

For more than forty years, the South Bay has done this with Christmas in the Park.

It's now officially re-opened and back at its Downtown location.

"This Downtown event is why we exist," Christmas in the Park Exec. Director Jason Minsky said. "It's our main focus, it's our priority and I'm just so excited to be back."

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2020 was the first year in decades that the park was not fully decorated with Christmas displays for families to visit and enjoy.

Now, it's back and organizers say it's better than ever. There's an all-new inflatable beer and wine garden, a tree so big you can walk through it and much, much more.

Not all is new this year though, the familiar grove of community-decorated Christmas trees returned - 537 to be exact.

Whether it was first time decorators enjoying the sense of community, or people renewing their 10-year tradition with their friends and family, everyone is happy to be back celebrating the holidays as a community once again at Christmas in the Park.

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From a grassroots effort to a grand operation, groups in San Jose are already collecting toys for kids.

"It's a place where everybody can come together whether they're walking, biking or taking transit, riding a bike, it's a wonderful gathering place," first-year tree decorator Michael Bueno said.

"It brings a lot of hope and joy to the community," 10-year tree decorator Huy Nguyen said. "For us, it's a sign of getting back to normalcy. We're super grateful and super excited to be part of the event and the great tradition that's going around."

"We've been around for 40-plus years," Minsky said. "The history of the event dates back to the 1950's, so even longer. Generations have grown up with this event and there was never an option to not come back. It was just how we're going to come back and here we are, opening night."

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Christmas in the Park celebrated their re-opening with their annual tree-lighting ceremony featuring city leaders and the big man himself.

It's not just going to be the park this year, there will be a drive-thru event again as a new tradition unfolds.

It will be at Lake Cunningham Park as they have grown out of their History Park location from 2020.

South Bay Great Christmas Light Fight star J.R. Mattos and team created a brand-new drive-thru focused lights synchronized to everyone's favorite Christmas songs.

It runs through the New Year and tickets are on sale now.

For more information on Christmas in the Park, visit their website by clicking here.