This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SAN DIEGO — A familiar tree is once again the center of attention this holiday season.

Little Italy’s Piazza della Famiglia has transformed into a winter wonderland, marked by the 23rd annual tree lighting on Saturday.

“It’s a great way to start the holiday season,” said Ify Aniefuna, a La Jolla resident.

The 25-foot tree drew thousands of people, many dawning their best Santa hats and festive outfits.

“It brings us a sense of pride and joy, but also that warm and fuzzy feeling that we all need during the holiday season,” said Chris Gomez, the district manager of the Little Italy Association. “Little Italy has always been focused on maintaining something that is a symbol throughout the season, throughout the year. 

Under twinkling lights, kids could write letters to Santa while their families enjoyed live performances. 

India Street between W. Cedar and W. Grape Streets were closed down to traffic so people could explore the Christmas Village made up of local vendors.

“We love San Diego and we love coming out, so Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone,” said Patty Billingsley, a Santee resident.

The tree will be lit until Jan. 2, but the neighborhood also features a 25-foot Venetian glass-inspired tree designed by California artist Joshua Hubert, located in the center of Piazza Basilone.