White, royal blue and frosty silver décor - from paper lanterns to snowflakes - adorned the hall as hundreds of Milpitas residents gathered around the stage and dance floor for the 25th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and its welcoming performers on Dec. 1st.
Milpitas Recreation Services hosted the ceremony, with volunteers from the Youth Advisor Commission, and openly invited the city to performances by the Milpitas High School Glee Club, the Fancy Dancers of Jensens' School of Performing Arts and Milpitas Community Concert Band, refreshments - including cookies, apple cider and coffee - and pictures with Santa.
"Tonight is a very special night because it is raining," Mayor Jose Esteves joked while opening the ceremony. "And because it is a blessing . . . It brings us together under one roof, one family."
The Milpitas High School Glee Club and the Fancy Dancers carried the audience into an upbeat atmosphere with songs like "Dig that Crazy Santa Claus" and the Jackson 5 version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
According to Renee Loreentzen, the city's Marketing and Cultural Programs Coordinator, approximately 750 people attended the ceremony and that it usually has a strong following from the public . . . "rain or shine."
"We took some time to assure that everything was silver for our silver anniversary. For the couple years, we haven't had community groups there as much so we wanted to focus as much on the community," Loreentzen said.
The performances concluded with the entire room counting down from twenty-five as "Santa Claus" appeared and twenty-five Fancy Dancers twirled one-by-one with silver streamers. Once the room roared "One!" the tree, two-thirds the height of city hall itself, illuminated through the rain and the audience applauded.
Volunteers welcomed attendees into other eventful areas in the plaza for the refreshments, pictures with Santa and the preview of the Festival of Trees Gala. The Festival of Trees is a fundraiser for the Milpitas Parks and Reaction Foundation’s Grant and Scholarship fund in which local sponsors decorate Christmas trees for a best design contest.
The Milpitas City Hall Rotunda, warmly lit by the Festival of Trees displayed throughout the floor, was filled with the attendees adoring the trees and the lively holiday music played by the Milpitas Concert Band. As the participants walked around enjoying the entertainment from left to right, volunteers gave away silver Christmas tree cutout ornaments as a souvenir.
"(The Tree Lighting Ceremony) was awesome. It was the best one because it was a special 25 year anniversary and I got a special ornament to commemorate it," Marilyn Hay, a spectator of the event said. "It was the best, even with the rain."