ORLANDO, Fla. – A symbol that kicks off the holiday season in downtown Orlando has more meaning this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020 has been unlike any other year, but the tradition of raising the “Jack Kazanzas” star is still shining bright.
Dani Marchese and Mike Chatham were some of the onlookers who stopped Sunday morning to watch crews with the City of Orlando and electricians hoist the iconic star above Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard.
“We live right around the corner and just thought we’d come down and support the city,” Marchese said.
The raising of the 600-pound golden star is a tradition going back more than 50 years. Two competing department stores in downtown, Ivey’s and Dickson & Ives, joined together in 1955 to hang the Christmas star between the two buildings.
In 1984, after the department store closes, Kazanzas, who was a lifelong resident of Orlando, raised funds to replace the original Christmas star, which had fallen into disrepair.
The new star was recently rewired with more than 4,000 LED lights.
It’s a symbol that represents the start of the holiday season. But Chatham said it means so much more this year.
“You don’t want to let the pandemic thing get you down. You still have to enjoy life and do things that are important to you,” Chatham said. “Keep the spirit alive.”