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Christmas Festival set for Saturday
Starts at 5:30 p.m. in Smyrna Park
Santa Claus will appear at Saturday’s Ceres Christmas Festival (as seen here last year with Chuck Pederson and Veronica Rincon). - photo by Jeff Benziger

Residents on Henry Avenue and Vaughn Street are busy decorating their homes and yards for the annual spectacle of the celebrated Christmas Tree Lane, which debuts this Saturday after the annual Ceres Christmas Festival. 

Every year since 1961, Henry and Vaughn streets in Ceres have been transformed into a holiday wonderland of Christmas lights and sounds. Visitors to Christmas Tree Lane will get their first stroll on Saturday evening during the 31st annual Ceres Christmas Festival held in neighboring Smyrna Park. The festival gets underway t 5:30 p.m.

The format of the event has changed, said Recreation Supervisor Cambria Pollinger, based on weather and requests for more activities. In years past, community dance groups have performed under the Smyrna Park picnic shelter. That won’t be happening this year; instead those same groups will be performing during a parade that will run from Fowler Road, turn onto Moffett Road and onto Christmas Tree Lane.

More activities, such as carnival games, Christmas craft making, coloring and a laser tag area will be provided under the shelter. The traditional free cookies and hot cocoa, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painting and letters to Santa will be offered in the parking lot area from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Marching bands from Ceres and Central Valley high schools will lead the way through Christmas Tree Lane so the surrounding streets will be closed from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to vehicular traffic. Dance groups will include local dance studios as well as the Blaker Kinser Junior High dance group and Ceres Diamonds cheerleading. The SWAT truck and antique fire truck will also roll in the parade. Dignitaries and Christmas Tree Lane homeowners will ride on flat bed trailers and/or the antique San Francisco trolley car now owned by Shane Parson. 

Pollinger explained why performances under the shelter were cancelled in lieu of the parade.

“It was a wonderful thing to have but it also posed a lot of problems trying to get everyone to be able to see their child and take a picture and it’s cold,” said Pollinger. “This will be the first change in a long time but we’re doing it based on the requests, kind of the feedback we got last year.”

For those who want to experience Christmas Tree Lane more than once, the display is offered through until Christmas and some nights afterward.

To get to Christmas Tree Lane from Hatch Road, travel east from Highway 99 to Moffet Road and turn right. Those coming from the south can use Whitmore Avenue to Moffet Road. The lane will be closed to vehicular traffic Saturday evening only to accommodate pedestrian strollers.

Those who attend the festival should park on the east side of the park, such as along Rose Avenue or in the Costa Fields parking lot since Moffett will be closed for the festivities.