TAMPA, Fla. - The annual tree lighting at Ybor City’s Centro Ybor is officially a decade old. And the lighting of the Ybor City Christmas tree means the holidays are officially here.
This year’s tree stands about two stories and for those who attended the lighting Wednesday night, it was just what they needed to get into the Christmas spirit.
“Just trying to do something different, been in the house for months so just excited about the Christmas season and everything that's getting ready to happen,” said Tampa resident Larenz Johnson.
The ceremony drew a socially distanced crowd. Most folks were wearing masks at the outdoor event.
However, everyone was ready for some holiday cheer.
“if you look around everybody's happy, everybody's smiling, even though the masks you can see the smiles, I think the best part is just seeing the community and everybody enjoying each other,” Austin Garcia told FOX 13 News.
It’s a holiday celebration that brings a sense of normalcy.
“It makes us feels like a community again, you get to see different people from different walks of life once again interacting with each other, of course we're following CDC guidelines, but it's just awesome to be around people and enjoying the atmosphere and the environment, and the weather is nice too," Johnson said.
The tree lighting also brings Christmas closer to home for some who aren't able to travel and see family because of the pandemic.
"I still have a flight for Christmas but I don't know if I'll be able to go because I don't want to infect my grandparents and family and stuff so it really does bring the neighborhood together to remind you that, your neighborhood is your family too,” Andrea Draize said.
City leaders say the tree is a good way to bring people to the area and support local businesses.