San Jose Tree Lighting Ceremony Brings Holiday Cheer, Donations to Camp Fire Victims

Thanksgiving has come and gone and it's already feeling a lot like Christmas, especially in San Jose.

The annual holiday tradition of Christmas in the Park kicked off with a lighting ceremony of over 550 trees decorated by local schools and groups from the community at Plaza de Cesar Chavez.

This year, the Community Giving Tree is not your regular Christmas tree. Instead of the regular lights, the tree has 100 strands of programmable lights synced to a musical light show - a special treat sponsored by Southwest Airlines. 

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The tree-lighting ceremony also brought some holiday cheer to a family affected by the recent Camp Fire in Paradise, California. Kitty and Mike Smith along with nine members of their family will take part in lighting the Community Giving Tree. 

"Everyone has some connection to the tragedy and the Smith family is ours," Christmas in the Park Executive Directory Jason Minsky said. 

The family lost their home and belongings in the Camp Fire and earlier this year they lost their 40-year-old daughter, Crystal Smith, and her fiancee, John Lowe, by an alleged drunk driver in Butte County near Paradise. 

To help victims of the Camp Fire, 100 percent of all contributions made to Christmas in the Park from Friday to Sunday will be donated to Caring Choices and 25 percent of those contributions will be given to the Smith family. 

Hundreds of people gathered at San Jose’s Christmas in the Park on opening night.

Christmas in the Park will be open daily through Dec. 25 at Plaza de Cesar Chavez with several events like an "Ugly Christmas Sweater Party," "Breakfast with Santa" and "Grinch Night." 

Check Christmas in the Park for more information. 

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