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By John Vincenti, Los Angeles Post-Examiner, November 8, 2021
The City of Covina’s Tree Lighting Festival was held on November 5th, with the participation of the Covina Christmas Parade Committee, and the H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Cultural and Art Museum, and other businesses and individuals in the city. The City proudly partnered with people and organizations in the community, to bring local families together and get into the spirit of the upcoming holidays.
While the tree lighting has been done for years, this year was different and expanded, with more of a storyline to the festivities, and an added sense of joy and purpose. After COVID-19’s disruption of so many festivals and get-togethers last year, this year’s tree lighting and festival atmosphere were designed to bring back the sense of joy and wonder that makes the holiday season a special one for so many people. It’s a great time of year to move on from a tough time in life with a renewed spirit of happiness and peace.
When asked about the history of the event and the differences compared with past tree lighting events, Covina’s Mayor Jorge A. Marquez said, “The City of Covina has had a Christmas Parade that’s run for 70 years. We also have a tradition of lighting up the Christmas tree every year, to add extra holiday cheer. The difference now, compared to the past, is we have added a storyline within the event, to keep kids entertained, and added activities for kids and their families to enjoy.”
With the lingering issues caused by the pandemic, and the stress and strain that has put on many families, it’s important for everyone to have some fun and fellowship as the holidays approach this year. The City of Covina was focused on that during the festival, and the City is dedicated to making the holiday season a better one for the community, as much as possible. Taking time away from worries, for families to celebrate and enjoy the magic of the holiday season, is a great way to do that.
Brian Tyan, the President of the H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Cultural and Art Museum, shares that opinion. The museum chose to partner with the City of Covina for this event by collaborating with the Covina Parks and Recreation Department and the Covina Christmas Parade Committee, in order to bring the joy of the holiday to the community more fully.
The event was held at Heritage Plaza, and included the Covina Farmer’s Market, where visitors could get great food and shop for holiday gifts. There was also live holiday music from the Covina Concert Band, and plenty of free activities for everyone to enjoy. Giveaways, letters to Santa, and children’s crafts were just some of the offerings the City worked to make possible. While adults understand the seriousness of the pandemic, and the toll it took last year, the children were often the ones who missed out.
When asked about what he feels the event means to the community, the Mayor replied, “To me, this Christmas I believe allows us to come together as a community, to kick off the winter holiday and enjoy each other’s fellowship. Especially this year, with COVID-19, we are hoping to get back to normal, to celebrating not just Christmas but each other, as a strong, tight-knit community.” While the City of Covina already has a Christmas parade, the Tree Lighting Festival added even more joy and completeness to the festivities.
This year was the 31st tree lighting ceremony for Covina, and the event has been a favorite of the community all during that time. According to Tyan, the H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Cultural and Art Museum recognizes that last year was rough on people, with losses including jobs and loved ones. The hope is that, through the Tree Lighting Festival, more people in the community can feel joy in their hearts and experience a reprieve from the pandemic.
To help encourage that, a professional holiday lighting company was hired, and that company decorated the entire museum building and the parking lot. There were snow machines on the event date, so people could enjoy the experience of snowfall. Parents and children were able to take photos with the snow falling, and there were light-up elements to add to the happiness and peacefulness of the occasion, as just one aspect of the overall festival, and the joyous atmosphere it produced for residents of Covina.
The museum sponsored the hot cocoa and coffee booth, where anyone could get free cocoa or coffee during the event to keep warm and cozy on a chilly night, and increase the feeling of holiday cheer. There were glow sticks and gifts for visitors who came to the booth, and the fun and excitement of the trackless train, allowing kids at the event to have a free train ride as part of the festival and as a way to move on from COVID-19 and have more adventures.