It wouldn’t be the holiday season if Downtown San Jose weren’t ringing with Christmas music and Ceasar Chavez Park weren’t overflowing with Christmas trees, lights and holiday displays. On any given night, from Nov. 27 to Jan. 3, families, couples and friends stroll through the yuletide cheer, hot chocolate in hand, getting into the holiday season. spoke with Christmas in the Park executive director Jason Minsky about the joyous event.

How long have you lived/worked in San Jose?

I have lived here since 1993 and worked since 1995 after I started working of the San Jose Sharks out of college.

At what point did you decide to stay in San Jose and pursue your career?

With the Sharks, I was a mascot in college and the Sharks were looking for a mascot, so I did it. I was Sharkie, but I had no idea what my career was going to end up being. I became executive director of Christmas in the park after I sat on board of directors with the organization and when the non-profit took over the event they decided they’d need executive director, and I threw my name in the hat because I thought it was something I could be good at.

What do you like most about San Jose?

I just think there are so many things to do, and so many different types of people in this city, that it makes it unique. It kind of has the feel of a suburb—but an event like Christmas in the Park brings all of the different pieces together and it brings that sense of community as well.


What San Jose event do you most look forward to every year?  

I don’t really know. But of course I do look forward to Christmas in the Park, because it’s fun to see people come out and see all the smiles on people’s faces. Obviously I’m biased, but I think what we do is pretty damn cool.

How do you like to hangout when you’re not working?

I have a 16-year-old daughter, so I love to watch her soccer games, going to the movies, and I also play hockey at Sharks Ice.

Who is the most interesting person you know in San Jose?

Tom Traston has worked on Christmas in the Park for over 30 years. He’s the most interesting because I think of him as a mentor and somebody who is a creative genius. I’d love to learn for him.

What are some reasons people come back year after year?

It’s tradition for so many families. It’s not an expensive outing because we don’t charge for you to visit. Everything is free and it’s a fun place to hang out. Everyone knows about Christmas in the Park in San Jose and I think it’s something that San Jose can call its own.  You can find an ice rink in certain places or a drive-through light show in certain places but you won’t find anything like Christmas in the Park.

What is your favorite act or display for this year’s Christmas in the park?

I like the reindeer barn which sits in our new reindeer ranch area. It’s the centerpiece of the new walking area, and I think it’s really cool. It’s an older display but it’s got a new look to it so it blends well.