Guests enjoy the snowfall during the annual Fashion Island Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Newport Beach on Friday.
Fashion Island was filled with holiday spirit Friday night like a scene from a Disney Christmas special as crowds gathered to watch this year’s 90-foot Christmas tree twinkle for the first time.
Guests filled the plaza in front of Bloomingdale’s and were treated to a custom Disney performance complete with songs from Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy dressed as Santa Claus.
The nearly 20-minute song and dance show was capped by falling snow and the illumination of the 20,000 lights adorning the towering tree.
This year’s tree-lighting was the third for Dawn Muller of Newport Beach. She watched the ceremony with her husband and 4-year-old twins, Brody and Cooper.
“It’s a tradition that we can start with the boys that they’ll always remember,” Muller said. “There’s always a start to the season, and this is kind of the benchmark for it.”
KTLA entertainment reporter Sam Rubin was on hand to host the ceremonies. He introduced Mickey and Minnie as “Disney’s first couple.”
The Disney characters certainly were a hit with the kids. Milana Berhe, 7, of Irvine said her favorite part of the show was “when they were singing,” and she loved the appearance by Minnie. She was also sure to debunk the falling snow, declaring it simply bubbles.
Her 5-year-old brother, Ben, was a fan of the snow, no matter what his sister thought, and said his favorite part was the dancing and Mickey Mouse.
The lighting of the tree rang in the official start of the holiday season for many, including Julie Kaiser-Dobak and her son Dylan, 8, who have attended the event for seven years.
“I wore the Christmas watch and the Christmas earrings for the first time this year,” she said.
Five-year-old Amie Blanchard of Huntington beach was dressed in her holiday best for her repeat visit to the annual ceremony. Her mother, Deborah Blanchard, said her daughter’s calendar is marked through December for tree lightings and Christmas festivities.
Fashion Island officials said they expected 10,000 guests to attend the tree lighting. Some started arriving as early as noon, like Mike Scanlan of Newport Beach, who reserved a spot front and center for his family.
From the sight of little girls in holiday dresses to the giant ornaments reflecting their red cheeks, Fashion Island was filled with holiday cheer. Christian Rodriguez, 6, summed up the mood of the night. “Everyone is so happy to be here,” he said.
Stacie Ellis, the senior director of marketing for the Irvine Co., owner of the Newport Beach shopping center, said the event was “definitely busier than even last year.” She said this year’s tree has added features from Disney and will “turn on with special music every night” at 5 p.m. The music and strobe lights that adorn this year’s tree are special additions by Disney.
The same performance will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, and the mall expects a similar crowd.