The neighbors join forces to restore the spirit of the festivities to the city center

At the countdown of 10, the Christmas tree flanked by unicorns and nutcrackers, lit up last night in the downtown area of ​​San Bernardino, thus reliving the years when residents of the region crammed the area to admire Christmas decorations.

Installed in what was a majestic fountain, between the Harris and The Enterprise buildings, in downtown San Bernardino, the Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of spotlights and ornaments, surrounded by giant ornaments, was made possible thanks to the community collaboration led by Rubén Gomez, member of the Real Talk group, Real Actions.

“All the cities around have lighting ceremonies, but we don't. That had to change. It occurred to me then to call on the community to install a Christmas tree. Our community also deserves to have its own lighting. This is the result of a united community, ”commented Gomez.

The call was answered by local businessmen who had the illusion of seeing the city reborn economically without waiting for the government to act. Carolina Verduzco, a local businesswoman, said the community has the change in their own hands.

“We always complain about things but we almost never act, we always wait for someone else to do it for us. This event is a sign that unity is strength, ”he said.

The most excited were the little ones. / photos: Alejandro Cano

The lighting was witnessed by dozens of residents committed to making San Bernardino a vibrant and possible city, in part to donations through a GoFundMe account established by Gomez.

“The response was sensational. There is nothing like Christmas, ”he said.

The tree was installed in an area where every night is lonely and often used to commit crimes. In this terrace, which joins two historic buildings in the city, people usually also go homeless to rest.

Decades ago, the Harris building was a visual attraction during the Christmas season. Its spectacular windows were adorned to the delight of the public, which traveled for several hours to the downtown area.

Neighbors and business owners joined to return the Christmas distraction to the community. / photos: supplied.

The historic Harris building was established in 1905 by the brothers Philip, Herman, and Arthur, three of 11 children of a German family with commercial origins. In the 40s and 50s, the departmental building was the only place visited by Santa Claus in the Toyland area.

The Harris department store, which installed the first escalator in the Inland Empire region, closed its doors in 1999 after joining the Gottschalks company in 1994.

Since then the building has remained silent, abandoned and often vandalized. For its part, The Enterprise building houses offices and a party room that is rented.

Gomez expects the Christmas tree to function as a magnet and the meeting point for visitors and residents.

“This is our city, a city with history. This is just the beginning, ”he said.

The neighbors took the opportunity to take the photo of the souvenir next to the tree and the decorations of December.

Gomez plans to offer events with sale of vegan food at least once a month during the year on the same terrace to keep the area active and alive. Britney de la Cruz, a local businesswoman who collaborated in the event, dreams of seeing the center of San Bernardino active and prosperous.

“There is a lot to work on. Only together can we bring change, ”he said. "We hope more people will be motivated and help us achieve the goal."


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