Major changes coming to beloved San Jose tradition, 'Christmas in the Park'

Major changes coming to beloved San Jose tradition, 'Christmas in the Park'Photo courtesy of
Wesley Severson
Published on November 13, 2020

By now many of us realize that the Christmas season may not be as merry this year compared to years past. With COVID-19 cases rising as we approach Thanksgiving, many communal Christmas experiences we’ve come to count on will likely be curtailed.

One experience that will not be the same this year is San Jose’s annual “Christmas in the Park” event.

The first change is that it will be drive-through only, which is a bummer to people across the South Bay who have made it a holiday tradition to walk with friends or family while checking out all the lights and decked-out buildings.

The second change is the location. The event is normally held in Plaza de Cesar Chavez in the downtown area, but it’s been moved a few miles away to History Park.

According to the FAQ section of the Christmas in the Park website, there wasn’t a safe way to hold the event with walkers downtown because of the current coronavirus safety restrictions. 

History Park is modeled after what Downtown San Jose looked like over a century ago, and it could actually be a nice backdrop for a drive-through holiday viewing experience. 

According to KPIX, History Park's 30 buildings will be lit up, along with trees, tunnels, and a tower that organizers say will create a quaint holiday vibe.

"They're probably expecting just a drive-thru version of our animated displays and our Christmas trees. It's just so much more than that," Christmas in the Park Executive Director, Jason Minsky tells KPIX.

The third change is the price. For the first time ever the event will charge a fee. Tickets range from $10 to $20 dollars per car. Organizers say they are working on options for people who can’t afford the admission fee.

KPIX reports that donations are down for Christmas in the Park and that it relied on money made from selling food and carnival ride tickets during the event to help make it free.

But given the pandemic, carnival rides are out of the question. Organizers are still hoping to bring in some food options and are telling ticket holders to check back with the website for more details.

Christmas in the Park starts welcoming cars Friday, November 27th, the day after Thanksgiving. It runs until January 3rd.

Organizers hope to go back to the original, free, downtown version of Christmas in the Park in 2021.