The holiday season came to the Mission City in true Santa Clara style as the community celebrated its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 5.
With sprinkles falling throughout the evening, Miss Santa Clara 2014, Madison Givens, introduced the entertainment; which included the Buchser Middle School Jazz Band’s music, classes from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department performing holiday-themed dances, Washington Open Elementary School singing songs (including an adorable version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”), and music by Teacher Sean’s Music Factory.
At 6 p.m., Jolly Old Saint Nick made an appearance to delight the children, like Kenan Castro, 7, in attendance. Although Castro came out to visit with Santa, he found plenty of things to keep him occupied on Friday night. “I’ve won a book and I got some stickers and I got a fireman hat and, of course, I got to see Santa. Overall I had real fun.”
Castro asked Santa for a Star Wars Inquisitor Light Saber. “It’s a cool toy,” he said, “and maybe when my dad and I get to play a little bit, I can play with my Inquisitor Lightsaber and my dad can play with my Darth Vader Lightsaber,” noting that he always has his father take the bad guy role when they play.
As the tree-lighting moment approached, Silicon Valley Power’s Director of Electric Utility John Roukema told the story of “Teddy,” the bear who has kept a watchful eye over the city’s tree for over 100 years. And, with Vice Mayor Jerry Marsalli, Council Members Pat Mahan and Debi Davis and City Historian Lorie Garcia on stage, newly re-elected Mayor Jamie Matthews took the microphone to address the crowd. “Santa Clara has so many wonderful traditions and this is one of them,” said Matthews, who has been attending the event since his children were young. “This is like a great community hug around the holidays.”
Matthews continued, introducing this year’s honorary tree lighter, long-time Santa Claran Ray Gamma; who is a former city fire marshal, has served two terms on the Parks and Recreation Department and was a founding member of the storied Wutzit Club.
With a countdown from 10, Gamma pressed the button, illuminating the holiday tree, and rain began to fall. The Buchser Deja vu Band then played, as the community began to disperse, some staying to socialize, while others walked over to the Triton Museum of Art’s Holiday Gift Fair and Triton Free Friday Performance.
The Santa Clara Holiday Tree will be lit nightly behind Santa Clara City Hall (Lincoln and Warburton) throughout the holiday season.