Daily Journal file photo
Elves and reindeer will be part of this Sunday’s festivities at the downtown San Mateo Caltrain station.
Downtown San Mateo will be having an early Christmas extravaganza on Sunday as several holiday events will culminate at the train station. The Downtown San Mateo Association is hosting its first Christmas on North B Street festival that will culminate with the arrival of the Holiday Train.
The event is about more than just having a merry time; it’s also about giving back. Toys for Tots and InnVision Shelter Network will benefit from the event.
“This is definitely a great new tradition that we’re looking forward to embracing and we’re hoping to bring people downtown to benefit the community and support these charities because that’s what the holiday season is all about,” said DSMA Executive Director Jessica Evans.
The event will include local merchants doing a Nativity scene, local restaurants and Whole Foods giving out free snacks and warm drinks, there will be arts and crafts activities for children, a jump house, live music and the Holiday Train festooned with 60,000 lights will be stopping at the San Mateo station. The San Mateo Firefighters Association will arrive with its 1920s fire truck and do its annual Christmas tree lighting, Evans said.
The Christmas-clad Caltrain is running through the weekend and making select stops for 20-minute shows along the way, said Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn. It will stop at the San Mateo station at 6:20 p.m. Sunday with Christmas characters like Mr. and Ms. Claus, Rudolph and elves in tow. The traditional barbershop chorus the Golden Chordsmen will be performing at the station as well, Dunn said. Representatives from the Salvation Army and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve will be collecting new, unwrapped toys for the charity Toys for Tots, Dunn said.
“It’s really a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season by doing it the first weekend in December. It’s a great way for people to get into the holiday spirit and we also want to be able to collect the toys and have them distributed in time for Christmas,” Dunn said.
The DSMA is pairing with the First Baptist Church of San Mateo and the InnVision Shelter Network to benefit First Step For Families transitional housing in San Mateo. The public can donate adult winter and professional clothing as well as grocery store food cards that will be distributed through the emergency and transitional housing facility.
“For the DSMA, when you have a Christmas celebration, it should be benefiting somebody,” Evans said.
First Step for Families has been part of the neighborhood for a long time, said Mila Zelkha, spokeswoman for InnVision Shelter Network.
“It’s been poignant to see the merchants involved with the [DSMA] to discover that our facility has been in their midst the whole time and that the need is very local and tangible. This is an event that’s a way for the entire community to engage and rally around helping these families,” Zelkha said.
Supporting the local community by arranging an event that is joyous to attend, supports local commerce and is charitable to the community and is what Christmas is all about, Evans said. Most of those who are in need within the community struggle year round and taking pause during the season to remember what the festivities are really about is important, Zelkha said.
“Holidays provide us with an opportunity to tell these stories,” Zelkha said. “It’s when everyone has their fellow neighbor in mind and when we as a community are reflecting on everything we have to be thankful for.”
The event begins 4 p.m. and continues through 7 p.m., when the Holiday Train will head down the track. The firefighter tree lighting will begin around 5:30 and the Holiday Train will arrive about 6:20 p.m.
The Holiday Train will be running Saturday and Sunday. For specific stops and show times visit caltrain.com/riderinfo/specialevents/holidaytrain.
For more information about the Downtown San Mateo Association visit dsma.org. For more information about InnVision Shelter Network visit ivsn.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106