Christmas in the Park has been a part of Genevieve Hismatullin’s vacation memories in San Jose for as long as she can remember. And when she returns to Plaza de Cesar Chavez for Christmas at the park’s opening night and tree lighting on Friday, she won’t just be like one of the thousands of San Jose families carrying on a holiday tradition. .
Kyla and Action Urgent Care, the AI-based telemedicine app and in-person urgent care company she and husband Garick Hismatullin founded, is the lead sponsor. The story of how her local, family-run business ended up in a place normally held by big corporations like Southwest Airlines brings together both Genevieve Hismatullin’s memories and her family’s experience through COVID- 19.
“It was always just a really fun holiday tradition with my abuelito and my abuelita,” she said. “We were going with my parents and my cousins and everyone. We saw all the displays and had all the different treats and hot chocolate.
Genevieve and Garick started taking her son and granddaughter there in 2018, then the COVID-19 pandemic forced Christmas in the Park to make a major pivot to a drive-thru experience in 2020. Being in the medical — Action Urgent Care has multiple locations in San Jose and surrounding Santa Clara County — made them as careful as possible when stay-at-home rules went into effect, even though it limited the activities they could do with their children.
The Christmas drive-in event in the park has become their holiday getaway. Geneviève Hismatullin guesses that they probably bought around 30 tickets to return again and again through the illuminated exhibits of the historic park that year. “It was literally one of the only events I could take my daughter to that was COVID safe,” she said. “We were buying tickets for friends and staff and if we couldn’t come we would pass on the tickets.”
Wanting to give back to the organization that brought so much joy to their family during this terrible year, Hismatullin reached out to Karin Cogbill, a friend who was on the Christmas in the Park board, to find out if there there was more than they could do. Last year, Action Urgent Care sponsored an exhibit at Blinky’s Illuminated Holiday, which had moved to Lake Cunningham Park (and will open there again this Saturday).
But this year, they took it a step further by becoming the presenting sponsor, in part to instill a sense of philanthropy in their children. “I wanted to introduce them to the aspects of volunteering and the ways we can give back,” she said. “We are creating a new family tradition for them and for us.
Christmas in the Park, which officially opens with the 6:30 p.m. tree lighting on Fridays, is open to the public from noon to 10 p.m. daily until January 1. This week, community groups, schools and businesses were decorating the hundreds of trees that will join the folkloric animatronic displays that have been a San Jose holiday tradition for decades.
Blinky’s Illuminated Vacation opens Saturday at 5 p.m. at Cunningham Lake Park and continues through Jan. 1 (except Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6). Tickets are $30 per car, and you can get more information about both events at www.christmasinthepark.com.
THE NEW COMEDYSPORTZ ARENA: COVID-19 was no laughing matter to ComedySportz San Jose improv players, as it had to cancel all of its in-person shows and classes. But this Thanksgiving weekend will be a real party for the “laugh-letes” as they welcome audiences to their new home, the San Jose Comedy Theater on Thornwood Drive near Oakridge Mall.
Three reopening “games” are scheduled for this weekend, with a show at 8 p.m. on Friday and at 7 and 9 p.m. on Saturday. Get tickets and more information at cszsanjose.com.
SOFT CONSTRUCTION WORKS: The San Jose Woman’s Club is bringing back its Gingerbread House Party on November 27 after a two-year hiatus. The 10th annual event — which takes place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the historic clubhouse at 75 S. 11th St. — will include prizes in both children’s and adult categories. Tickets, sjwcgingerbread.eventbrite.comare $15 if you bring your own gingerbread house kits or $35 if you want a pre-built gingerbread house kit.
And whether you win or not, you can feel good about creating a holiday centerpiece, as proceeds support several local nonprofits, including 13th Street Cat Rescue, Hope Services, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, Opera San Jose and the San Jose Day Nursery.
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