Historic Town Center Park attracted more than 10,000 San Juan Capistrano residents to watch the annual Christmas tree lighting, as well as orchestral music, colorful dances and seasonal skits. Saturday evening saw a break from the wet weather, and despite the soggy grounds, the traditional celebration went on.
“If there had been rain, we made contingency plans,” said Special Events Coordinator Heidi Ivanoff. “We made plans to have canopies for rain or shine, but lucky for us, it didn’t rain and we were able to have our San Juan Christmas.”
Santa and city officials began the lighting countdown at about 6 p.m. after the evening’s entertainment concluded to light the 40-foot tall Deodor Cedar tree.
“Our tree lighting ceremony has taken place at different venues around the city,” said Ivanoff. “Over the past five years, our audience has grown from a few thousand to around 10,000.”
Following the tree lighting, crowds immediately migrated toward free cookies, pictures with Santa and free train rides off Verdugo Street. Children scampered to wait in line and cheered for a picture with Santa Claus.
Orchestral quartets as well as carolers set up alongside street corners to play and sing seasonal tunes while shops remained open for business for the evening. The mildly temperate evening saw no rain but a lot of residents enjoying the holiday spirit.