Several hundred people watched from cars parked around the Sunken Gardens as Atascadero lit up the Rotunda Friday night. Mayor Heather Moreno and Atascadero City Council Members Charles Barbeau, Roberta Fonzi, Mark Dariz, Susan Funk and Heather Newsome counted down at 6:10 pm, and the Rotunda lights illuminated the Sunken Gardens.
The annual event was altered this year to accommodate state restrictions on public gatherings during the Coronavirus pandemic. The crowd which gathered in the Sunken Gardens was ordered to return to their cars parked around the area. Families watched from their parked cars as the countdown proceeded. Many honked their horns in celebration when the lights lit up the Rotunda. After the lights came on, Santa Claus rode around the Sunken Gardens in a Model A Antique Fire Truck.
Recordings of Atascadero school choirs and soloists singing Christmas Carols accompanied the evenings festivities. The recordings were broadcast on Manny’s Public Address System and on 103.9 FM, which families could tune into from their parked cars. Other students performed on flatbed trucks at nearby Atascadero High School in a “drive through” performance Friday evening.
Each afternoon this weekend, two reindeer from All About Animals in Tehachapi are on display at the Sunken Gardens. Kids are allowed to feed the reindeer Graham Crackers through the fence of their temporary pen in the Sunken Gardens.
Terrie Banish of the City of Atascadero coordinated Light Up the Rotunda in compliance with state regulations on the Coronavirus pandemic. The annual event kicks of the holiday season in Atascadero.