Old Sacramento Revitalized for the Holiday Season

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

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

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

After the tree lighting, the Theater of Lights show took over K Street; the rooftops of local shops became the stage for the narration of The Night Before Christmas and a light show.

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

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

The Christmas 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 here, especially after the last few years,” said Janie Desmond Ison, who has owned Steamers Bakery and Café with her husband since 1994. “The last few years have been filled with uncertainty.”

For Desmond Ison, this time of year means attracting more families to enjoy the coast.

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

In the summer of 2021, a shooting occurred every month for three months; two of them were fatal, claiming three lives.

Desmond Ison told ABC10 that things have been looking up lately.

“Security around here has improved remarkably in the last six months, and it has helped that we have the volume of people here; that really dilutes the bad actors. They don’t go down. They are not interested in family environments,” she said.

$5 million in American Rescue Plan funds have been allocated for the Sacramento Waterfront District to help with safety efforts. $4.2 million of that was set aside for lighting upgrades and security cameras and $800,000 for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership.

The group said money has already been earmarked for improvements.

“Improved lighting, improved programming, festive décor…we’ve introduced a lot of new elements to those areas and will continue to do so over the next year,” said Scott Ford, director of economic development for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. “I’m optimistic. I think with the improvements we’ve seen in the City of Sacramento, and with great programming like the Theater of Lights and the ice rink at 7th and K, we’re going to continue to see Downtown grow in 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 starting to pay off. No one should give up our city!”

The free functions of the Teatro de las Luces take place from Thursday to Sunday until December 24. The performances are scheduled as follows:

  • Fri. November 25, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • He sat. November 26, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Sun. November 27, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Thursday, December 1, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Fri. December 2, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • He sat. December 3, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Sun. December 4, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Thursday, December 8, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Fri. December 9, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • He sat. December 10, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Sun. December 11, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Thursday, December 15, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Fri. December 16, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • He sat. December 17, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Sun. December 18, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Thursday, December 22, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • Fri. December 23, shows at 6 pm and 7:30 pm
  • He sat. December 24, show at 6 pm

For more information, click here.

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