The community joined together for the 2022 city of Burbank Mayor’s Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, in front of Burbank City Hall.
The annual celebration was hosted by longtime radio personality Jim Roope. Burbank City Councilmembers Sharon Springer, Konstantine Anthony, Nick Schultz, and Bob Frutos, as well as Mayor Jess Talamantes, attended.
Rep. Adam Schiff visited the gathering, a representative of State Senator Anthony Portantino’s office, Arda Tchakian, was present on behalf of Portantino, and it was announced that Assemblymember Laura Friedman had been at City Hall earlier in the day but had to leave prematurely for another event. In addition, Burbank school board member Armond Aghakhanian appeared at the festive occasion.
The half-hour ceremony began with a shoutout to the sponsors and supporters of the tree lighting, including Relay for Life, the city of Burbank Public Information Office, the public works department, the police and fire departments, the parks and recreation department, and the Walt Disney Company.
A group from Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca took the stage to perform a dazzling dance routine to the Christmas number “El Burrito Sabanero.” Later on in the evening, they again entertained the audience with a second dance routine, which was carried out while “El Año Viejo” played. Talamantes stepped in front of the crowd and expressed his gratitude toward attendees for participating in the city’s holiday get-together.
“I’m so delighted to be here on this very special evening. The holiday season is always a special time of year here in Burbank, and what better way to kick it off with this great Burbank tradition of lighting the tree? … As a community, we come together,” Talamantes said. “On behalf of the city of Burbank and the Burbank City Council, I’d like to thank you all for joining us tonight for this festive ceremony. Year after year it keeps growing, and it’s better and better after every year.”
Talamantes introduced the rest of the City Council on stage and also thanked Schiff for being there. The congressman and longtime Burbank resident then joined the council to speak of his happiness in appearing at the tree lighting.
“I want to thank you, Mr. Mayor, and thank the city of Burbank for this annual celebration,” Schiff said. “It’s so nice to be with all of you, to be here in person. It’s nice to see people in three dimensions after Zooming for years, it seemed like. And I just want to wish you all a very happy, healthy holiday season.”
The politician additionally described why he has enjoyed living in the city of Burbank, which he referred to as Los Angeles’ “little piece of the Midwest,” for over two decades.
“I’ve been a proud resident of Burbank for about a quarter of a century. That makes me practically a native. And I just love this city,” Schiff said. “It’s like you took a little piece of the Midwest and dropped it down in the middle of Los Angeles. It’s a place where people know their neighbors, look after their neighbors, and I’m just so proud to be a resident and participate tonight.”
Two special guests, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, showed up in a shimmering blue ‘67 Chevrolet Camaro while a version of “Winter Wonderland” sung by the iconic Disney characters was heard in the background.
The Muses of John Burroughs High School next showed off their vocal skills as they sang a captivating rendition of “Carol of the Bells.” Following the second performance by Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus arrived by motorcycle down Olive Avenue, and the Muses returned to sing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
“Ho ho ho! Thank you, Burbank, for having us back this year,” Santa said on stage next to Mrs. Claus. “We’re so excited to be here, Mrs. Claus and I. We love coming to Burbank for the tree-lighting ceremony. Thank you very much, and Merry Christmas!”
Talamantes and three of his grandchildren next offered the Clauses a gift basket with treats like hot cocoa, candy cane chapstick and gingerbread beard oil. The local lawmaker was elected to the council in 2009 and is nearing the conclusion of his third term, fulfilling the role of mayor of Burbank. 2022 marks the final tree lighting as a council member for Frutos, Springer, and Talamantes, who shared his mixed emotions over the end of his service on the council.
“You know, it’s bittersweet, obviously, knowing that this is my last tree lighting. But it’s been a great 13-and-a-half years,” Talamantes said. “I’ve really enjoyed being part of the leadership … But nonetheless, I’m going to miss it. I’m going to stay still engaged as much as possible, but not as an elected official.”
After the audience counted down from 10 together, the function finished with a switch being flipped to light up the city of Burbank holiday tree that sits in front of City Hall.
Following this occurrence, the Clauses took photos with event participants and children who lined up to meet the cheery couple. With his closing words spoken before the Burbankers who were present, Talamantes provided well wishes for the remainder of the Yuletide season and the upcoming new year.
“We want to wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season, and we look forward to an amazing 2023,” Talamantes said. “Thank you, everybody, for all your support and everything you do for the city of Burbank.”
You can watch a TikTok video recap of the tree-lighting ceremony here.