San Jose’s Christmas in the Park struggles to secure sponsors

It’s one of the main attractions of San Jose’s beloved Christmas in the Park. Visitors enjoy seeing hundreds of Christmas trees decorated by community groups. However, this year, the non-profit is struggling to secure sponsors. Organizers could lose thousands of dollars.

The trees are pre-ordered and paid. This time last year the trees were close to selling out but not this year. With a new drive-thru show, visitors may see less ornate trees.

The colorful array of decorated Christmas trees is one of the highlights for San Jose’s longstanding holiday tradition Christmas in the Park.

Cassidy Chase decorated a tree with her eighth grade classmates from Piedmont Middle School.

“Having decorations on a tree you made is pretty cool,” said Chase.

The pandemic has forced the traditional walk-thru event at Plaza de Chavez to transition to a synchronized drive-thru light show at History Park. The Christmas trees remain, well organizers hope they do.

“Right now we’re seeing a dramatic loss in people who have not signed up to decorate a tree yet,” said Christmas in the Park Executive Director Jason Minsky.

Along with the light displays, 450 full size Douglas Fir trees will be placed at grassy patches throughout the park. They are sold at different rates with community trees priced at $80 and business sponsors pay $600.

“Our budget this year with the trees being sold and all the decorating is somewhere north of $50,000. Right now, we are just south of $10,000 so we are 18 percent of where we need to be,” said Minsky.

The nonprofit suspects groups may not feel safe decorating yet decorating days are spaced out. For those worried trees may be hard to see, signage is bigger and larger ornaments are recommended.

“My first thought was how are we going to do this,” said Teacher Jennifer Maio. “How are we going to get the kids down there. We aren’t even in school. I thought maybe we shouldn't do it then I thought this is when we really need to do it.”

Maio hesitated buying a tree this year but ultimately purchased one. She said it’s an opportunity for her students to be connected and show some community pride.

“I think kids need that normalcy,” said Maio. “They’ve lost so much. We want to keep it consistent.”

The nonprofit may rely more on ticket sales. If tree sales continue to go down, for the first time, organizers may open it up for families to decorate trees.