While the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled school, jobs, sports and more but it hasn’t stopped Oxnard’s annual Christmas tree lighting event at Plaza Park. Just this week, Ventura County’s largest tree was decorated in preparation of the holiday season.

2020 marks the 68th year of the tree lighting ceremony—one tradition, resident Allen Diaz said he’s grateful to still have after a difficult year. He said since the pandemic he’s lost a job, wages and the connection with his community. He’s hoping the holidays bring some normalcy and holiday joy to Oxnard.
“This morning I saw them putting the tree up and I smiled ear to ear,” Diaz said. “It’s a familiar, beautiful sight during hard, hard times.”
City Councilmember Bryan MacDonald said he’s proud the city is maintaining the Oxnard tradition despite the COVID-19 pandemic. MacDonald lives in Oxnard’s historic district and said before the virus, each year thousands came to see the Christmas tree lights. He said Christmas and holiday season bring the Oxnard community together, he’s grateful Gary Blum and others will help the city virtually celebrate.

Blum, Oxnard Downtowners foundation vice chair, is coordinating a 30-minute YouTube broadcast featuring the Christmas tree lighting, entertainment, Santa Claus and behind the scenes clips for residents to enjoy.
Blum is currently editing the material for the pre-recorded stream; it will be broadcasted on December 11 at 6 p.m. Viewers can watch from the Oxnard Downtowners Foundation YouTube channel. The virtual event is sponsored by the Oxnard Downtown Management District.
“People told me, we’ve given up every holiday this year, we’ve lost Easter, Mother’s Day and every other holiday has been affected. But they can’t take Christmas away,” Blum said to VIDA Newspaper.

To execute the virtual tree lighting, Blum boosted the foundation’s budget and is hosting a fundraiser to garner $7,000. The foundation will also light a second tree and hang large letters that read ‘hope’ in the downtown district. Blum said hope is the theme this year—hope in spite of 2020’s trials.
The Christmas Tree lighting at Plaza Park reminds councilmember Oscar Madrigal of his childhood. As a child Madrigal and his family would drive past the tree and said it brought warmth and a reminder of the holiday season. While Blum hopes the virtual Christmas tree lighting brings a sense of normalcy to the community, Madrigal agrees.
“The value it brings the Oxnard community is immense as people of all ages can rejoice. It brings hope and happiness to our community,” Madrigal said to VIDA Newspaper.

By Gabriela Miranda