Christmas in the Park celebrates its 35th anniversary and remains a staple for many San Jose residents as part of the holiday season.

It is impossible to miss the hundreds of uniquely decorated Christmas trees, many animated character displays and variety of vendors that take over San Jose’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez during the holiday season. Jason Minsky, executive director of Christmas in the Park, said the nonprofit organization works throughout the year to organize the event for the community as people “come together as one big Christmas family.”

He said in it’s 35th year, Christmas in the Park has gotten to a point where San Jose natives who used to come as children are now bringing their children to celebrate in the San Jose tradition.

“The people make this special,” Minsky said. “Seeing how happy our event makes the community, is a joy.”

He recalled a day early in the season where, in the pouring rain, a father and daughter walked through the park. Despite the weather, the little girl lit up as she walked past each animated character display. “That little girl was so excited,” he said.  ”It’s a cycle and something people treasure.”

Nine-year-old Rylan Brumm said he thinks Christmas in the Park is “awesome” and twin sister Emma agreed saying that she really likes the rides and lights on the Christmas trees. As part of their family tradition for the last couple of years, mother Monica Brumm said she thinks this is one of the biggest displays of Christmas in this area and is fun for all ages in the heart of downtown.

As a “walk-through” event, visitors are encouraged to stroll through the Christmas tree forest with 500 differently decorated trees specific to a variety of companies, organizations and schools. Downtown Ice, adjacent to Christmas in the Park, allows for an additional opportunity to get in the holiday spirit with winter ice skating.

Strolling through the Christmas tree forest, Syl Harris and wife Letha looked adoringly at the Christmas trees such as those decorated by elementary schools with children’s faces and the popular Disney movie Frozen. Syl said he and his wife have been coming to Christmas in the Park for 20 years, and they enjoy seeing the families with children and the beauty of the holiday season.

Letha said when her godchildren were young they loved bringing them. “It was wonderful, they were all exuberant about it, running around all over the place looking at the Christmas trees.”

As one walks through the park familiar displays such as the Carribean Christmas with singing and dancing frogs or Scrooge and Marley hold a special place as part of tradition, however, new displays such as Camp San Jose and the new big red Christmas ball ornaments are some of the new displays for this holiday season.

For the first time, Christmas in the Park will be open throughout the month until New Years Eve where they will bring in the new year with an “east coast style New Years Eve,” according to Minsky.

Minsky encourages the community to come at least twice the holiday season: once during the day in the middle of the week and again at night when everything is lit up. He said it is least crowded in the middle of the week and Wednesday nights the park shows a free Christmas movie.