The 2022 Tree Lighting was quite well attended despite the cool temperature. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Heavy rains are a rarity in Los Gatos, but last week saw the community get quite the natural wash. And it put a serious damper on holiday shopping.

But by Friday evening, no more droplets were falling—though it was still wet and cool—and hundreds turned out for the Holiday Tree Lighting at Town Plaza Park.

“We were looking forward to it,” said 62-year-old Margie Gonzales, who was there with husband Enez, and 18-month-old grandson Thiago, 18 months. “This is his first one.”

The evening community ritual involves turning on the power to bulbs adorning a fir tree planted by the History Club of Los Gatos in 1923. That means next year will be the 100th anniversary.

“This gets us in the mood for decorating,” Margie said. “Tomorrow we go get a Christmas tree.”

tree lighting family photo
The Murugesan family poses for a photo following the official lighting. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Enez said he feels like the Tree Lighting is a great event because it caters to people of all ages.

“We get to run into neighbors we haven’t seen in over a year,” he said, adding it reminds him of drinking in the streets during a World Cup event, years ago. “This place was crazy.”

As if on cue, Vilma Huertas, 51, appeared by their side.

“We used to be neighbors,” she said, noting the interaction was purely serendipitous. “I was bringing a package to the post office.”

Leigh Anne Bacheller was with her 4-year-old dog Louie.

Christina and Ellie
Christina Romo and daughter Ellie.
(Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

“This is our first Christmas in Los Gatos,” she said. “I felt like I fell into a Hallmark movie.”

Nearby was 61-year-old Truckee resident Paul Brown.

He grew up in Los Gatos—and his parents still live “down here,” as he now puts it.

“I haven’t missed this in years and years and years,” the construction company owner said.

Unfortunately, his daughter couldn’t join him, as she was preparing with her dance school for the parade the following day.

“It’s so good to see old time friends out here,” he said.

Christina Romo was with her 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter Ellie.

“We just got a house here,” she noted.

Ellie was keeping her eyes peeled for the big man.

“We’re on the hunt for Santa,” Christina said.

Her daughter’s hoping to get a train set this year.

Los Gatos residents Dhiya, Kayal, Pandia and Dave Murugesan posed for a picture together.

Eva Peterson of San Jose met up with her friend Catherine Bourquin of Santa Clara.

Eva and Catherine
Eva Peterson (left) and Catherine Borquin. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Peterson said she’d been looking forward to experiencing the “atmosphere of Christmas.”

Borquin said she felt the same way.

“It’s pretty,” she said, as they watched people taking photos in front of the light structures. “Can’t go wrong.”

Members of “Camp Clean-up” Maggie Contro, Violet Riavi and Emma Richards. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

For Maggie Contro, 8, Violet Rizvi, 9, and Emma Richards, 8, it was a chance to inspect the “Camp Clean-up” volunteer work they’d done a few weeks earlier to beautify the park.

Some of the plants were a little worse for wear, and they weren’t too pleased to see a beer container laying on the ground. But overall, the vegetation had held up remarkably well, they thought.

Contro said this year’s Tree Lighting definitely felt different, since they didn’t have to wear coronavirus masks.

Richards agreed.

“This year we can see everyone’s faces,” she said. “I like this year a lot more.”

Nolan Ehrlich, 7, really enjoyed witnessing the light illumination ceremony.

“It was good,” he said. “I liked how it started to glow up all the way to the top.”

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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