Macy’s Christmas tree lighting in San Francisco held per week early

Macy’s Christmas tree lights in San Francisco took place a week earlier

Union Square was lit up with Macy’s annual Christmas tree lights on Thursday. KTVU’s Jana Katsuyama reports that the event was held a week early to encourage sales in the collapsing retail corridor.

A holiday tradition returned to Union Square in San Francisco on Thursday night when city officials gathered to light the Macy’s Christmas tree.

Seamus Stannard, 9, from San Francisco, was the star of the evening who was honored to push the giant button to light the tree through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Stannard then posed for photos with the city police and fire department and was given a shopping spree at Macy’s.

“It felt amazing,” said Seamus, “I’ll probably go shopping and see Santa Claus.”

“It feels very emotional,” said Sarah Bennett, Seamus’ mother. so it feels wonderful. “

The glow of the lights lifted the mood of many people.

“They are very beautiful. I like them because walking through them makes me feel like I’m in a fairy tale,” said Taia Ishchenko, a second grader from San Francisco who carried a bag with a newly purchased backpack. She was out shopping in Union Square with her sister, mother, and grandmother.

“We are all vaccinated and I hope this holiday will be more active. We’re going to go shopping now, we’re going to Apple to get a present for my eldest daughter, ”said Maria Ishchenko, Taia’s mother.

In-store decorations reflected a slow return to personal shopping.

“Every year it’s so beautiful. It’s a perfect time to cheer up after all this pandemic,” said Amanda Garcia from South San Francisco, who celebrated her birthday with tea at the Rotunda restaurant and some Christmas shopping.

Union Square is a vacation tradition for her, Amanda Barba and Sonia Flores, all of whom were from South San Francisco.

“We have been doing this for 14 years,” said Flores.

There were some differences this year, however.

“It seems to be a little quieter, not so alive,” said Barba. “It feels different, but I’m thankful it’s back. I mean, I’m thankful that I could come out and enjoy it a bit can .”

“I immediately noticed how empty it is,” said Flores, adding that the people they met were friendly. “The staff was very grateful to the people who were there that afternoon. We drove to four stops. “

The pandemic has taken its toll. Lease signs for vacant stores lined many of the blocks after H&M and other major retailers like Uniqlo and DSW closed their doors.

Many of the remaining stores will advertise Black Friday sales earlier this year, which coincide with the early tree lighting.

“Trying to start the holidays early, given some delays in various deliveries and the like, and just get out of COVID for some joy and mood early,” said Marisa Rodriguez, executive director of the Union Square Alliance.

The San Francisco police chief and mayor said they are planning additional patrols along with an ambassador program to increase security and welcome shoppers back.

“We have already started an increased effort in the Union Square Area and other parts, but during the holiday season,” said Police Chief William Scott. “The ambassador program we retired San Francisco cops stopped. Now we have 23. They also work in the area.”

“Nothing says Christmas like people having fun and shopping,” said Mayor of London Breed. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure this neighborhood, Union Square, is safe.”

Along with the Christmas tree, Union Square will also bring back the lights on the menorah on November 28 to celebrate Hannukah.



Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or

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