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October 23, 2021

Evening With the Mayor aims to raise money for holiday lights display

WATSONVILLE—Watsonville Mayor Jimmy Dutra says he clearly remembers the light displays that once lined downtown every holiday season. 

As a kid, Dutra would see the sparkling candy canes, snowflakes and more that adorned the street lights, poles and storefronts as he and his family walked or drove down Main Street.

“It was something that always stuck with me,” Dutra said. “And I’ve always had the idea in the back of my mind that we should bring it back.”

Now that he’s mayor, Dutra has the opportunity to set the idea in motion. This weekend, Dutra will host Evening with the Mayor and Friends of Watsonville Parks and Community Services, in order to raise funds for a new batch of downtown holiday decorations.

The success of the Holiday Light Campaign is vital, Dutra said, as the cost of each lighting decoration for a single-pole is close to $1,000.

“It’s pretty expensive,” Dutra said. “Our goal is to decorate at least 12 poles on Main Street … and if we can do more, that’d be awesome.”

Evening With the Mayor will be held Saturday 4-7pm at Staff of Life Natural Foods in Watsonville, 906 East Lake Ave. Attendees to the ticketed event will be treated to wine and beer tasting, a silent auction, live music, a photo booth and more for a suggested tax-deductible donation (sliding scale) of $25-$50 per person.

Members of the community can also sign up to sponsor the campaign. A $250 sponsorship will purchase a holiday-themed banner featuring a business, organization or family name, to be displayed downtown this year and next. A $1,000 sponsorship will purchase a banner, as well as two tickets to Saturday’s soirée.

“As we’re coming out of Covid, this offers an opportunity for people to be outside, come together and experience a traditional kind of event,” Dutra said. “I want to build this community up again. While it’s not going to happen all at once, we can gradually get ourselves back to a new normal.”

Six local wineries, including Integrity Wines, Alfaro Family Vineyard-Winery, Windy Oaks Winery and more will be offering tastings. Staff of Life’s neighbor, Fruition Brewing will also offer beer tasting. 

Auction donors include restaurants such as Ella’s at the Airport, Imuras, and Jaliscos, as well as Annieglass, Taste of Monterey, Carmona’s BBQ, Corrigan Christmas Trees, Central Coast Screen Printing and Embroidery and more.

Tickets are available for preorder at

If successful this year, Dutra says he hopes the downtown holiday lights will become a tradition.

“I remember these lights, and how they made me feel,” Dutra said. “That nostalgia sticks with me. I’d love to do it again, so that other kids will have that same feeling.”

For information about Evening With the Mayor and the Holiday Light Campaign visit or email [email protected]

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.


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