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January 18, 2018
A park full of dazzling attractions and a Community Stage with live performances in an atmosphere of joy and merriment, San Jose’s Christmas in the Park is more than just a street lined with Christmas decorations, it’s a traditional San Jose event that reaches out to the community through various sponsorships and programs.
In 2017, Christmas in the Park broke the Guinness World Record for the “Most Decorated Christmas Trees” with 600 shimmering Christmas trees decorated by local non-profits, businesses, schools and clubs. They use the Christmas tree decorations as an opportunity to recognize and promote organizations, businesses, schools and clubs around the Bay Area. Each Christmas tree had a sign of its decorators beside it.
“We certainly could not have done it without the community involvement,” said Board Member Karin Cogbill. “We needed people to purchase and decorate the trees. It was fun to see that we have the community support to be able to do that.”
Along with the Christmas trees, Christmas in the Park also partners with sponsors such as Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots and Family Giving Tree to encourage visitors to give back to the community. It organizes a “Stuff the Bus” event with Toys for Tots where a Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus is “stuffed” with donations by the visitors. Additionally, in partnership with Family Giving Tree, a Christmas tree is located at the Information Booth where visitors can make children’s wishes come true by sending them presents of their choice or providing them with essentials and school supplies.
Christmas in the Park adds new attractions every year, making visitors eager for the next year. Some of their new additions this year include Mistletoe Row Photo Spot where visitors can take a selfie under a giant mistletoe sprig; the North Pole Plaza with the 60-foot Community Giving Tree and the Community Stage, which is a platform for people to perform a show of any kind; the Bears Pond Ice Rink and Snowflake Falls, where visitors experience snow falling from the sky.
“I have had several people come up and say, ‘This has been the best year ever,’” said Cogbill. “They really love it. Every year we try to bring in one to two new displays.”
With their success at branching out into new attractions and 600 decorated Christmas trees, Christmas in the Park serves as a great platform for the whole community to come together and enjoy the holidays.
Karin Cogbill, Board Member
“I love all of the decorated trees. I love seeing from year to year what each organization and school does differently and all the creative things they come up with. Christmas in the Park has just been a resource for the community to celebrate holiday traditions at no expense. I think it is a holiday tradition that’s been in a lot of people’s families for a long time. Most locals like who live here know Christmas in the Park. They have a story or a favorite memory about coming here as a child.”
Michelle, College Student, “Snowman Hot Chocolate”
“I started working for “Snowman Hot Chocolate” when I was a sophomore in high school and now I’m in college. My favorite part of Christmas in the Park is this tree made out of light and that flashes to music. I love it a lot because I’m an engineer. So I’m just like, “That’s so cool!” What makes Christmas in the Park special is that even if I’m working here, my family will come and I’ll spend my lunch with them. Just being able to spend time with my family is amazing. Usually, my holiday tradition is to go down to LA and go to Disneyland. Something unique about Christmas in the Park is that we get a lot of people from out of town just visiting and they’ve never seen this. They go bonkers over all the toppings that we put on the hot chocolate. Just to be able to bring that experience and joy to the visitors from San Jose or out of town is really fun. And the fact that we make it right in front of them makes them go, “Oh that’s so cool!” I think it’s just the joy of the holidays season and the hot chocolate that makes Christmas in the Park a special event.”
Lexi, College Graduate, “Snowman Hot Chocolate”
“Honestly, my favorite part of Christmas in the Park is the food service. I always like to eat. So I go around and try a little bit of everything. What makes Christmas in the Park unique is that a lot of different communities and cities don’t have a “Christmas in the Park” similar things. It’s very unique to San Jose.”
Shelley Romeo, Program Manager
“I like doing something for the community for everyone to enjoy. What I like about Christmas in the Park is how all different kinds of groups can be involved. And I think it’s a really unique event in that no other city has something just like it. It just keeps growing every year.”