Danville prepares for Lighting of the Old Oak Tree

November 22, 2023

This article originally produced and appeared on Danville San Ramon.

Danville prepares for Lighting of the Old Oak Tree

Longtime tradition returns with new entertainers, businesses

by Jeanita Lyman / Danville San Ramon

One of Danville’s oldest landmarks — the approximately 350-year-old oak tree on Diablo Road — is set to be the center of winter holiday festivities once again this year, with the Lighting of the Old Oak Tree ushering in the final weeks of fall as well as the holiday shopping season for local merchants.

The longstanding tradition is a mainstay of the winter holiday season in Danville, held annually on the day after Thanksgiving and offering a community oriented experience that puts small local businesses at the forefront, in contrast with often-hectic Black Friday shopping experiences at retail shopping centers.

“We’re hearing that retail is down nationwide, but my feeling is Danville’s offering is so interesting and so unique,” said Judy Lloyd, president and CEO of the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to celebrating new and old businesses alike, this year’s event is set to offer several new entertainment additions, with performances from the Diablo Valley Girls’ Choir as well as the chamber singers from both San Ramon Valley and Monte Vista high schools.

The event will also see the return of two beloved characters that are signature figures for the local celebration — Father Christmas and the Snow Angel, the latter of whom is returning to the festivities for her 30th year.

“They started with a local person and have just kept with it, and she was so popular and her costume was so spectacular,” Lloyd said.

Diablo Valley Girls’ Chorus and the two high school chamber groups are set to kick off the evening at 5:15 p.m. Friday (Nov. 24) with classic holiday tunes, followed by the appearance from Father Christmas and the Snow Angel at 6:30 p.m. and additional entertainment from Impulse Acapella and Messiah Lutheran Church singers, as well as words from Lloyd and the Danville Town Council, who hosts and organizes the event in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce.

Festivities are set to extend into the evening through 8 p.m. as downtown businesses welcome shoppers with extended hours and holiday sales.

“All of the stores are decorating and the stores are going to be open late offering discounts and deals,” Lloyd said. “This is really the kickoff of our holiday shopping season in Danville. We will have the Danville Police Department as well as the town of Danville. CPC Danville is going to be giving out s’mores and candy canes, and we will also have Olaf and the Penguin down there for kids to get pictures.”

Another popular presence returning this year will be firefighters with the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, who will be on site with a firetruck.

This year will be the first for a number of new businesses in town, including a variety of restaurants such as Zaya Thai Pantry and Falafel Boy, as well as seafood restaurant Tides of Danville and plant-based eatery Blossom & Root.

New retail options are set to include Good Commonsense Naturals, pet gift shop Dogmah, and America’s Finest Hemp Company, which earned the chamber’s Best Retail, Boutique Sales and Services award in April. Amphora Olive Oil, which opened the night of last year’s tree lighting, is also a relatively new downtown business on tap for this year’s shoppers.

“There’s lots to do and lots to see,” Lloyd said. “The storefronts are spectacular. We’re just looking forward to a really, really fun night.”

Street closures are planned to accommodate the event on portions of Hartz, Prospect and Linda Mesa avenues as well as Front Street from approximately 4-9 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 24), with drivers being advised to navigate with caution and expect delays. A portion of Diablo Road is set to be closed from 1-9 p.m.