Old Sacramento revitalized for holiday season

The tree lighting ceremony and first Theater of Lights performance of the year kicked off the holiday season Wednesday night.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hundreds of locals and visitors filled the streets of Old Sacramento Wednesday night for a tree lighting ceremony and performances by the waterfront.

A 65-foot tree took center stage — the tallest tree ever displayed there — as dance groups and the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus shared their talents with the crowd.

Following the tree lighting, the Theater of Lights show took over K Street; the rooftops of local businesses turned into a stage for a retelling of the Night Before Christmas and a lights show.

For 10-year-old Juan Rengifo, coming to the event meant spending time with his mom and friends.

“It was so fun, I almost forgot I was in reality,” he said after watching the light show.

The holiday festivities also brought a boost to local businesses. ABC10 found long lines at cafes, shops and restaurants.

“We look forward to this all year. This is our favorite time of year down here, especially after the last couple of years,” said Janie Desmond Ison, who has owned Steamers Bakery and Café with her husband since 1994. ”Last couple of years has just been filled with uncertainty.”

For Desmond Ison, this time of year means bringing more families out to enjoy the waterfront.

Local businesses saw less foot traffic after the COVID-19 pandemic hit and a bout of gun violence.

In the summer of 2021, a shooting happened every month for three months; two of them were deadly and claimed three lives.

Desmond Ison told ABC10 that things have gotten better lately.

“The security around here has been markedly improved over the last six months, and it’s helped that we have the volumes of people down here; that really dilutes the bad actors. They don’t come down. They’re not interested in family environments,” she said.

$5 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan was earmarked for the Sacramento Waterfront District to help with safety efforts. $4.2 million of that was set aside for lighting improvements and security cameras and $800,000 for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

The group said money has already been put toward making improvements.

“Improved lighting, improved programming, holiday décor…we’ve introduced a lot of new elements in those areas and we’re going to continue to do so over the next year,” said Scott Ford, economic development director for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership “I’m optimistic. I think that with the enhancements that we’ve seen from the City of Sacramento, and with the great programming like the Theater of Lights and the ice rink on 7th and K, we’re going to.” continue to see Downtown grow into its new chapter and be more successful than ever.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg echoed a similar sentiment, saying in a statement to ABC10, “Our investments in Downtown and Old Sac are beginning to pay off. No one should ever give up on our city!”

The free Theater of Lights performances happen every Thursday through Sunday through December 24th. Performances are scheduled as follows:

  • Fri. Nov. 25th, shows at 6 pm & 7:30 pm
  • Sat. Nov. 26th, shows at 6 pm & 7:30 pm
  • Sun. Nov. 27th, shows at 6 pm & 7:30 pm
  • Thurs. Dec 1st, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Fri. Dec 2nd, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Sat Dec 3rd, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Sun. Dec 4th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Thurs. Dec 8th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Fri. Dec 9th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Sat Dec 10th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Sun. Dec 11th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Thurs. Dec 15th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Fri. Dec 16th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Sat Dec 17th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Sun. Dec 18th, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Thurs. Dec 22nd, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Fri. Dec 23rd, shows at 6pm & 7:30pm
  • Sat Dec 24th, show at 6 pm

For more information, click HERE.

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