Christmas in the Park is an annual tradition where the public is invited to tour around a festive, winter wonderland in downtown San Jose. It's also an unfortunate tradition in recent memory, that vendors have struggled to make money.
This year was no different. In fact, some vendors said they suffered even worse because of the heavy December rain. The event kicked off Nov. 23 and will remain open through Jan. 1.
Christmas in the Park Executive Director Jason Minsky told NBC Bay Area on Thursday that attendance, which usually hits the half-million mark each season, was down by at least 25 or 35 percent this year. Despite the struggle, he said, the event will resume next year.
The event is billed as an economic generator for San Jose, bringing an estimated $13 million in visitor spending at the nearby restaurants, museums and attractions.
Vendors said they suffered the consequences. One vendor said she paid $2,000 for the stall and $800 for insurance, and she certainly didn't make that up in nacho sales. Dan Connolly of the Kiwanis Club said that last year his club took in $50,000 and this year, it was only about $30,000. That gap is significant, he said, because the money is used for charity.
The event - now in its 33rd year - remains free, despite challenges in raising donations and corporate sponsorships. Guests are asked to donate $1 when they attend any of the family-friendly venues, which is why attendance is so crucial to its funding efforts, organizers said.
The roots of Christmas in the Park date back to 1949, when the late Don Lima put up a Christmas display with a nativity scene in front of Lima Family Mortuary on Willow Street in Willow Glen.
To learn more about Christmas in the Park, click here.