Despite COVID-19 restrictions, plenty of sparkle is in store during the December holiday season for those who would be merry in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.
Santa’s masked, local helpers have aced the test of creativity and flexibility in devising ways to honor tradition yet keep the community safe. Community organizations as well as the cities themselves have all put on elf hats.
The traditional tree lighting ceremonies that mark the season will be video recorded without audiences and premiere on social media, Dec. 4 in Santa Clara and Dec. 5 in Sunnyvale.
Santa Clara residents are still invited to stroll through Central Park evenings and experience the magic of a 90-foot redwood tree all aglow through Jan. 10, 2021.
Keep those walking shoes handy. The Santa Clara Historic Home 2020 team is gifting the community with six walking tours covering outdoor only viewing of more than 50 historic sites in the Old Quad area. Check in December for downloadable tours at www.sc-hometour.com.
At Santa Clara First Baptist Church, 3111 Benton St., the traditional walk-thru of a live Bethlehem Village has been replaced by a parking lot drive-thru Dec. 1 – 31, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (except for Dec. 24). A phone app telling the Christmas story in Spanish and English will be made available. For information, visit https://www.scfbc.org/bethlehem/.
Ho, Ho, Ho
While there is no lap sitting with Santa, families can register now on the Santa Clara city website (www.SantaClaraCa.gov/Holiday2020) for virtual online visits with Santa.
Santa is still coming to town live at the Apricot Orchard, next to the Heritage Park Building, 550 East Remington Dr. in Sunnyvale on Dec. 5, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Reservations are not needed for children 12 and under to wave, take a photo with Santa in the background and post letters in his private mailbox. Visit https://sunnyvale.ca.gov/cals/ or call (408) 730-7360 if you have questions.
The holiday season kicks off in downtown Sunnyvale, with Murphy Avenue at its core, on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28.
“We’d like to wish all our residents and neighboring cities a safe and enjoyable holiday season,” said Mike Johnson, Director of Sunnyvale Downtown Association, which sponsors the annual downtown tree lighting.
“We hope you’ll reach out and support small businesses and restaurants,” he continued. “They are doing everything they can to keep doors open and employees working.”
“Staff are getting creative this year, offering a variety of holiday-themed programs that allows kids to socialize and recreate while following all State and County social distancing requirements,” said Santa Clara Recreation Manager Kimberly Castro.
Registration for all Parks and Recreation holiday programs begins on Wednesday, Nov. 18 for residents and Friday, Nov. 20 for nonresidents. Visit the City website (www.SantaClaraCa.gov/Holiday2020 ) for a complete listing — from “Elfie” outdoor scavenger hunts to in person craft classes and virtual and in-person day camps Dec. 28 – 20.
The City library offers a kids’ paper Gingerbread character decorating contest, running Nov. 20 – Dec. 7. Details are on the City website or call (408) 615-2900.
The annual Holiday Home Decorating Contest, sponsored by the Cultural Commission, proceeds as usual, with information posted Nov. 30 – Dec. 23 on the City website and social media.
Internet access is needed to get information and to participate in many events. This puts those families and seniors without computers, tablets or smart-enough phones at a holiday disadvantage.
Two favorite live holiday activities have been put on hold until next year — the outdoor ice-skating rinks at Central Park Santa Clara and in downtown Sunnyvale.
Caltrain’s Holiday Train with Santa was also cancelled. Santa expresses his regrets. He invites everyone to share photos from past Holiday Train visits at #HolidayTrain2020.
Share your own holiday fun tips at #SiliconValleyVoice.