Twinkling lights, steaming cups of hot cider and the happy faces of children filled Civic Center Plaza Thursday evening as hundreds arrived for the City's annual Tree Lighting event and Festival of Trees gala.
The Milpitas Community Concert Band set the scene to classic holiday music as the crowds gathered around the giant holiday tree. "Snowbell" and "Tinsel" - otherwise known as Renee Lorentzen and Jaime Chew of the Parks and Recreation Department - emceed the evening with a humorous back-and-forth dialogue, in between musical numbers by a group of carolers and the Glee Club, "Encore."
Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves addressed the crowd, and even joined other members of the City Council in singing a rousing version of "Jingle Bells" on stage.
"As we celebrate the lighting of our tree, we should all feel like a family, because that's what we are tonight," Esteves said. "We are a great city - but we can only continue to be great if we stick together, through good times and bad. And tonight is a good time!"
Finally, the crowds cheered as the giant tree lit up.
Next, most made their way across the plaza to , where the annual Festival of Trees fundraising gala was already in full swing.
The annual gala's main event is a silent auction of several decorated holiday trees, donated by local businesses and organizations. In addition to the trees, other items were up for bidding, such as autographed sports memorabilia.
Proceeds from the auction benefit the Milpitas Parks and Recreation Foundation, which provides grants and scholarships to local families.