Single Gal and Traditions

Why do we relish traditions around the holidays? Why do we become nostalgic about certain things that we do with family and friends? You don’t see people planning to go to the same play every March or going to see a display around Valentine’s Day. But in San Jose, the Christmas season seems to bring out some wonderful traditions.

Christmas in the Park is the one tradition that I can vividly remember as a child and now enjoy going to with my cousins or nephews. I love seeing those same displays (especially the bears fishing), rolling a coin down the Wishing Well, and buying an extremely overpriced blow-up Santa on a stick; most of those traditions remain true even 20 years later.

The Skating Under the Palms ice rink has further enhanced Christmas in the Park.  There is just something cool and fun about skating outdoors as if you live where ponds and lakes freeze over.

We can all imagine and get lost in the holiday spirit. It’s hard to be stressed or worried when you are downtown at Christmas in the Park. It is probably the one single tradition that makes people from Los Gatos, Saratoga, and other nearby cities come to downtown San Jose for a night with their family. It would be nice to find other reasons for people to do so all year long. 

All the hotels are decorated so beautifully downtown and it is really something to see. I do remember as a kid the Sainte Claire Hotel would pretend that Santa was jumping off the roof of the hotel with spotlights and music. I called the Sainte Claire and when I asked about it, the woman on the phone started laughing and said they don’t do that anymore.  It’s too bad, because that was a tradition that was just burned in my memory. 

However, change brings the beginnings of new traditions as well. Something new that I don’t remember as a child are the trains in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel, all from different countries with models of their buildings and terrains. I remember walking through the lobby as a child and seeing the most beautiful decorations around Christmastime, but the trains are something new to me. If you have any little boys in your life, take them there.

There are a lot of great things to find in downtown San Jose as the holidays approach.  So, for a moment, let’s not hear “Bah! Humbug!” or any complaining. Let’s appreciate and share some of the holiday traditions that we have in San Jose.


  1. Agree SG.  Christmas in the park is a nice outing.  But as you’re leaving you walk by – Quetzie.

    Can’t the city at least put a Santa hat on Quetzie to take the edge off?

  2. Dear S.G.

    Nice touch.  I think Christmas in the park is great…and I’m glad it’s not called, “Holiday in the park!”  I get so sick of seeing and hearing the word, “holiday” used all of the time.  It sounds silly, and carries little meaning…
    I’ve got jewish friends and friends who are atheists that celebrate “Christmas.”  No big deal.

    You know, if you carry things too far, one could make the argument that the name of our city needs to be changed!  You can’t have a city named for a saint!  Let’s start calling it “Jose,” or better yet, “Little Jose!”

    Pete Campbell

  3. Didn’t take but five posts for the humbugs to start whining about “Happy Holidays.”

    “I do remember as a kid the Sainte Claire Hotel would pretend that Santa was jumping off the roof of the hotel with spotlights and music. I called the Sainte Claire and when I asked about it, the woman on the phone started laughing and said they don’t do that anymore.”

    That’s horrible! Why would you want to watch Santa leaping from the roof!? Was the point that there were so many bad little boys and girls and so few good ones that he just decided to end it all?

  4. Single Gal—

    Thanks for mentioning Downtown Ice, under the Circle of Palms adjacent to the Fairmont Hotel.  It is a great addition to Christmas in the Park and is a growing phenomenon, currently smashing last year’s record attendance levels. 

    And I would point out, for benefit of all those who have cyber-bashed the San Jose Downtown Assn. (SJDA), of which I am a termed out boardmember at the end of this year, that it is SJDA which sponsors at no small cost this family-friendly amenity, which is, I’m told, larger than its more famous counterpart in Rockefeller Center.

  5. On my way in this morning, I was deeply offended. 

    Those right wing nutjobs at VTA had the audacity to emblazon the front of their lightrail cars with, get this, “Happy Holidays”.  Can you believe it?!

    For the 12 minutes it took for the light to change, I sat in stunned silence.  That image will be forever seared, seared! into my memory.

    “Holidays” is Christian code for… “Holy Days”. 

    Oh the humanity!  Can you imagine the hurt and the pain felt by the wiccans and atheists in our village?  All caused by this callous, non-inclusive act?

    Unless CH takes immediate action to rectify this and make our village whole again, you can be sure my next phone call will be to our local ACLU brownshirts.

  6. #7 Mr. Gagliardi:

    I would point out that it is small businesses like mine that pay for this through an additional downtown business tax we have to pay every year.
    Another reason my business is moving out of downtown when our lease is up next year.

  7. Don’t forget the most magical tradition for us Bay Area transplants: Interstate 5!

    Tailgate, tailgate, pass on the right, BRAKE LIGHTS, pass on the right, tailgate, merge left when there isn’t enough room BRAKE LIGHTS . . .

    Ho ho ho!

  8. 7 –  Are you kidding when you say Downtown Ice is “larger than its more famous counterpart in Rockefeller Center”? I find that very hard to believe and would welcome your proof to back-up your statement.
    Of course, it doesn’t matter if it is bigger or smaller. It’s typical of so many in San Jose who are hung-up on size. It’s a nice little attraction—why can’t we be satisfied with that? Does it have to be bigger than NY or SF or anywhere else? People are enjoying it. Isn’t that enough?

  9. #12 Michael Schwerin: 

    BID funds from small businesses like yours (and mine) pay for less than 10 percent of the cost of Downtown Ice.  The lion’s share comes from corporate sponsorhips from small businesses (like mine) who purchase dasher boards, as well as user fees. 

    Also, the crowds attracted to the ice rink mean, hopefully, more foot traffic for downtown businesses.  Whether your particular business is better off foregoing the rink and other benefits of SJDA and keeping your small BID contribution, I don’t know, but I think the downtown as a whole is far better off on balance for having downtown business banding together through the BID.  And I’m skeptical that your BID contribution has run you out of the downtown. 

    #14:  In terms of the size of Downtown Ice, I’m merely reporting what I’ve been told by what I considered a reputable source.  I don’t have “proof.”  You’re right, it doesn’t really matter in the cosmic scheme of things.  But if it were to be true, as I have no reason to doubt it is, it merely underscores how we devalue positive things in San Jose.  However it ranks in size, Downtown Ice is a big positive.

  10. Kramer,
    “Festivus for the rest of us” is certainly catchy.  But promoting a holiday that involves steel poles can hardly be considered carbon neutral. 

    As for me, I’m leaning towards “Happy Days Comrades” as the official end-of-year city greeting for greater San Jose.  It’s completely God-less and has a nice, retro Stalinist ring to it.

    In a nutshell, it’s perfect for the bay area.

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