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San Jose set to break Christmas tree world record

Annual holiday festival boasts 600 illuminated trees

San Jose opened the holiday season by breaking a world record over the weekend. The city’s annual Christmas In the Park festivities include 600 illuminated trees, more than have ever been assembled in one place per Guinness Book of World Records.

At least, that’s according to ABC 7. Guinness spokesperson Elizabeth Montoya told Curbed SF that right now the city’s display only qualifies as an “attempt to break a world record” and that the city won’t get the official laurel until they submit tangible evidence of the count.

“After evidence (official statements, photos and videos documenting the attempt, and other materials [...]) is submitted by the applicant, our Records Management Team thoroughly reviews all materials,” says Montoya. The process can take up to 15 weeks.

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The Hallmark Channel holds the current record, with 559 illuminated trees in New York City in 2015.

One of the San Jose’s arboreal spread is the city’s towering centerpiece tree, but the majority of them are smaller, ranging from five to eight feet. Most of the lit-up spruces and firs, each dolled up with a different theme, were donated by local businesses, community groups, and non-profits.

This year’s crop includes several Star Wars-themed trees, a Lego Batman tree, a tree donated by the local blood bank in the likeness of Count Dracula, and a tree from a nearby high school class covered in leftover Day of the Dead decorations.

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Note that during the official opening on Friday, eagle-eyed visitors could spot a handful of trees that sponsors had not yet finished illuminating.

Whether that will count against the record remains to be seen, although the dawdlers will presumably get their lights strung sooner rather than later.

According to the city, Christmas In the Park is now in its 38th year at the current location but its genesis extends back in the 1950s with a Willow Glen man’s elaborate nativity scene.

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Don Lima owned Lima Family Mortuary in Willow Glen and decided to bring some holiday spirit to the community by borrowing $300 [...] to build the first ever holiday display in San Jose. [...]

People would park blocks away just to walk to the display and gaze in amazement. There was bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main street because cars drove by, slowly, just to catch a glimpse.

Eventually Lima donated his Christmas convocation to San Jose City Hall, which later moved to its present location at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez.

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