A large group of Burbank community members gathered outside of City Hall on Saturday, Dec. 4, to view the annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Johnny Holiday served as master of ceremonies for the event, which also featured the Burbank City Council, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and onstage dance numbers from the youth dancers of Generation DCD dance studio.
Burbank locals, actor Clint Howard and his wife, Kat Howard, were among those present at the ceremony. The two spoke of their happiness in celebrating with fellow residents of the city.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Clint said of witnessing the celebration. “This is cool. It’s small-town but really smart…and we’ve got California weather too.”
Kat echoed the positive feelings of visiting a cheerful neighborhood gathering during the most wonderful time of the year.
“It’s a warm feeling just seeing all of the community out here and enjoying the Christmas tree lighting,” Kat said. “It’s beautiful.”
Holiday kicked off the celebration by singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and performing other classic holiday tunes like “White Christmas,” made famous by Bing Crosby. He next introduced Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos to the crowd of locals watching the festivities amongst their friends, neighbors, and family members. Frutos explained the significance of the Tree Lighting Ceremony for the City of Burbank, which was carried out in person for the first time this year since COVID-19 arose.
“We are here as a community,” Frutos said. “The tree is our symbol. It is us coming together as people…We are coming out of this pandemic, but we, the people of Burbank, are so happy to get our lives back, are so happy to be out and about.”
Burbank City Councilmembers Sharon Springer, Nick Schultz, and Konstantine Anthony, as well as Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, then joined Frutos on stage to greet the event attendees. State Senator Anthony Portantino likewise accompanied Frutos and presented him with a Senate Proclamation to honor 110 years of incorporation for the City of Burbank, from which he recited an excerpt.
“I take great pleasure in congratulating [and] commending the City of Burbank upon its 110th anniversary of incorporation, and I applaud this wonderful city and everybody who lives here, who makes it special and works here,” Portantino said.”God bless and happy holidays everybody.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley Board Member Laurie Ryan- McDonald, BGC Director of Operations Marisa Robinson, and the Burbank Keystone 2021-2022 Youth of the Year Adrian Casillas were recognized by Holiday, as he presented them with one of two checks that he is personally donating to the organization for the month of December. Holiday was later given a key to the City of Burbank for his devoted contributions to local philanthropic organizations, including the BGC of Burbank and GEV and the Kiwanis Club of Burbank.
Holiday then sang “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” to welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrived at the gathering by driving down Olive Ave. in a three-wheel motorcycle. After Santa and Mrs. Claus said their hellos to the audience and wished everybody in Burbank a happy holiday season, they were presented with City of Burbank merchandise, such as a tumbler, notepad and pencil, and a reindeer whistle, on behalf of the children of Burbank.
A group countdown from all attendees took place leading up to the lighting of the luscious tree sitting in front of City Hall. As the countdown ended, the tree was illuminated in front of the audience and provided a dazzling sight representing the joys of the holiday season.
Following the tree lighting, Santa and Mrs. Claus took pictures with children in a sleigh next to the bright lights of the city’s Christmas tree as holiday music hits were played in the background. The sight of young community members and their families gathering by the tree to meet and greet Santa, Mrs. Claus, and fellow residents embodied the positive elements of the city that make locals proud to call themselves Burbankians.
“Whether you’ve been here for generations or you just moved here, this is a wonderful place to be,” Holiday said of Burbank. “This city has a heart, and I’m just so glad to share this special night [of] the tree lighting and [a visit from] Santa Claus with you.”