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Ballet Foklorico de San Juan Capistrano dancers perform at the tree lighting ceremony in downtown San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Allison Jarrell
Ballet Foklorico de San Juan Capistrano dancers perform at the tree lighting ceremony in downtown San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Allison Jarrell

Photos and Story by Allison Jarrell

San Juan Capistrano’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony attracted thousands of people to the city’s Historic Town Center Park Dec. 6, with an array of events including performances by local musicians and dancers, hay rides and train rides and a special program following the lighting at the Mission.

Heidi Ivanoff, Senior Program & Special Events Coordinator for the city, said this year’s event was “blessed with wonderful weather.” Even with traffic delays due to Ortega construction, Ivanoff said the lighting attracts roughly 10,000 people each season, and this year was no different.

Many local clubs and organizations participate in the holiday festivities each year, and Ivanoff said several of the groups use the opportunity for fundraising. One such group, the Capistrano Valley High School Orchestra, kicked-off the ceremony with a performance and later sold food and holiday trinkets in a booth while other members played in trios and quartets around town. Ivanoff said the city tries to change a couple aspects of the event each season, and this year that meant adding a free outdoor movie showing—The Grinch—sponsored by SD&E.

OCTA sponsored a free shuttle service with three park-and-ride locations for attendees to take advantage of until about 11 p.m., which Ivanoff said allowed for visitors to participate in the downtown’s “Moonlight Shop & Dine.”

“It was wonderful seeing all of the new businesses and restaurants participating downtown,” Ivanoff said.

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