Norwalk tree lighting ceremony returns after lockdown

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Vincent Medina

Norwalk city council celebrates the return of the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. They welcome Santa Clause to the celebration on Dec. 4, 2021.

Vincent Medina, Managing Editor

Residents and community officials gathered at the Norwalk city hall lawn on Saturday to resume the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Norwalk canceled the ceremony in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials deemed the tradition could continue safely as approximately 65.8% of Norwalk residents are vaccinated.

“It’s great for family, friends, and neighbors to come together and acknowledge that we are fighting COVID and making progress, that’s why we are asking everyone to get their shots,” said Archuleta.

The senator joins other state officials as calls for people to get vaccinated are rising as the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, appeared in San Francisco earlier last week.

He hopes that the event will encourage people to continue obeying safety restrictions and exercise caution during the holidays.

“This tree lighting ceremony is important because it shows that we have a future. If we work together and stay safe together, we will continue to prosper as Californians.”

The night began with a performance from Imperial Dance Studio’s new competition team.

Imperial Dance Studio's competition team performs at the Norwalk Christmas tree lighting. They performed several dance routines on Dec. 4, 2021
Imperial Dance Studio’s competition team performs at the Norwalk Christmas tree lighting. They performed several dance routines on Dec. 4, 2021 Photo credit: Vincent Medina

Christine Roberto and her daughter bought the studio in July and plan to enter the team into regional competitions in February 2022.

“I work for [Norwalk], and recreation knew I owned the dance studio and asked us to come out,” said Roberto.”The team loved the event today, some of them performed for Relay for Life, so this is good practice.”

Families and children anxiously waited in the 54-degree weather for Mayor Jennifer Perez to light the Christmas tree and for Santa Clause to arrive.

“This is the kick-start of the holidays. I’m grateful that we get to be together,” said Perez.

The mayor continued to ask families to stay safe during the Christmas season and protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus by getting vaccinated if they are eligible to receive the shot.

Perez, Archuleta and the city council counted down to 6 p.m. when they lit the tree and snow reigned down on the audience.

 

Norwalk city council lights the city hall Christmas tree. Snow reigned down on the audience during the celebration on Dec. 4, 2021.
Norwalk city council lights the city hall Christmas tree. Snow reigned down on the audience during the celebration on Dec. 4, 2021. Photo credit: Vincent Medina

When Santa jumped on stage, kids cheered and ran to get in line for a picture before he left in an hour. Parents were happy that their kids could see Santa after COVID-19 hindered their holiday celebrations.

“We are trying to bring back the holiday spirit after not having it last year,” said Gloria Mesa as her family waited in line for a picture with Santa.

Despite the new Omnicron COVID-19 variant, Mesa was confident her family would be safe during the holidays.

“We are all vaccinated and we are staying safe during the holidays with a small celebration,” she said.

Other families like Nancy Martinez, her husband and three kids, are confident the vaccine and observing safety precautions will protect them during the holiday season.

“Most people are vaccinated and taking precautions,” said Martinez. “I’m not concerned about the variant because it hasn’t spread a lot.”

Mayor Perez reassured everyone that Santa would return to Norwalk the following Monday, Wednesday and Friday at various locations for people to get a photo with him if they were unable to that evening.