Burlingame’s annual tree lighting goes virtual


Alex Kelly

This year’s tree was lit in the same spot as always, next to City Hall, but the ceremony had some major differences.

Alex Kelly, Staff Reporter

The Burlingame Tree Lighting took place virtually on Dec. 4 — another community event closed down because of the pandemic. The tree lighting was one pre-recorded video with multiple different performances and speeches cut together, rather than a series of live performances culminating in the tree lighting, as it has been in years past. 

“It just seemed very clear that we had to do a virtual tree lighting ceremony, but we wanted to keep the tradition going so we felt lucky our staff pulled that together,” Burlingame Mayor Emily Beach said.


The virtual tree lighting included musical groups, such as the Burlingame Intermediate School (BIS) 6th grade Cadet Band, the BIS Accents Choir, and the Mercy High School Burlingame Chorale. Each group had their performers record separate videos that they then compiled into one song. The Burlingame Youth Advisory Committee also participated in the lighting and helped spread holiday cheer by sharing what they were thankful for this holiday season. And per tradition, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus showed up at the end as a special treat for those watching at home.


While the tree lighting performance was a success, Burlingame clubs were hurt by the virtual setting. In previous years, many clubs would set up along the Ave. during the holiday parade and sell items or ask for donations. Without funding from this event, clubs have a much harder time raising funds for their objectives during the next semester.


“Usually we raise somewhere between $200 and $300, and the tree lighting was our biggest fundraiser for the past two years,” Sydney Crespo, Co-president of the Kids In Need (KIN) club said.


This is a situation that most of the Burlingame clubs are in at the moment. Fundraising has been very difficult for the KIN club during this time, and the loss of what was usually their most important event of the year does not help them for the future. 


Burlingame businesses have also not benefited from the tree lighting going virtual this year. 


“We actually shut down Burlingame Avenue… and do the tree lighting at around 6 p.m., and then the parade happens and it’s dinnertime and community members eat dinner on the Avenue,” Beach said.


Businesses often benefit from the foot traffic created by the tree lighting, and without community events like these to boost their sales, they will continue to suffer. In her recorded speech during the tree lighting, the mayor stressed the importance of supporting Burlingame businesses in this time of crisis. 

While this year’s tree lighting may not have been as uniting as it was in previous years, the City of Burlingame still tried to spread joy and brought the community together through their virtual celebration.