By Marlee Ginter

OLD SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It was something we haven’t seen in a long time as people packed Old Sacramento to kick off the holiday season.  Christmas carols filled the air, Santa could be seen on a balcony performing with Theatre of Lights, and with a loud countdown, the 60-foot tree lit up with the flip of a switch.

“It’s really good to see the people out here and everyone engaging out here and being so friendly.  It’s warming,” said Leah Saeturn.

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After a year off, canceled because of the pandemic, the annual tree lighting event made a major holiday comeback. And for the first time, some actually didn’t mind hunting for a parking space.

“It was like the first time having everything be crowded and to have to go and find parking. It gives you the chills of holidays happening again,” said Matthew Hopson.

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The 60-foot White Fir from Siskiyou County boasts 24,000 lights, so it may not be a surprise that it lures so many people to Old Sacramento. It’s a shot in the arm to local business, but overall, it’s a boost to a sense of community.

“I really think it’s important that we redirect the energy back to the people and get back to normal. We’re ready,” said Saeturn.

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The live holiday entertainment doesn’t stop. Throughout the holiday season, until December 24, you can catch live holiday performances with Theatre of Lights at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.