Thursday, November 27, 2014

Riverside Festival of Lights

Come one - Come all to the Festival of Lights!!
Once again starting November 28th at precisely (as exact as one can get) 4:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time a switch will be thrown and the majority of downtown Riverside in Southern California will become a beacon of twinkling lights for the International Space Station.

There - Just to the north-east - we think
For five long holiday weeks the evenings in this rather beautiful city will be highlighted (a bit of a play on words here) with over three and half million Christmas lights strung through trees, bushes and tightly wrapped around the historic Mission Inn and Spa. The brain child of Frank Miller who started building a small 'rest stop' for weary travelers back in 1902 who came to visit the once thriving citrus valley a mere sixty miles east of Los Angeles. Miller's dream continued to build as did the structure of the Inn to its present day splendor - proudly owned by Duane and Kelly Roberts who seem to try and outdo the previous year's lighting project each consecutive season.

 And a project it is with millions of lights along with animated singers, dancers, and other Holiday spirited entities twirling, bowing, and moving along the exterior of the entire Mission Inn. The interior of the Inn is just as enthralling as the exterior but the favorite is still the outside as tens of thousands of visitors pay court to the artistry which is taken to display such a massive and costly display of lights.

A sing along perhaps?
 In fact, J and L were fortunate enough to spend a night at the Mission Inn two days before Christmas last season and had a chance to speak with some of the folks who had put up the lights. We learned that on some of the tallest palm trees surrounding the exterior pool no cranes or scaffolding could be used to hang the lights but simply a man who seemed to have the ability to clamber up the trunk of the palm while encircling that very same trunk. A rope, good footing, and a pride to do the best job he could were the three ingredients needed to succeed and succeed he did. J would have just thrown the lights as high as he could to the branches and hoped they would stay lit - much like he does at his own abode.

How do they do that?
Professional light hanger he is not. Though, on a side note - John is so enamored with the Mission Inn it was featured in his recent novel - Soft Target (2014).

Professional writer - yes - light hanger - no!

Stay warm - my friends
Besides the lights, there is an ice skating rink, food and craft vendors, stores offering all sorts of specialty items for purchase, hot chocolate by the gallons, and live entertainment within a block of the Mission Inn. A couple of hours can easily be spent hiking from area to area enjoying all that a quaint downtown could offer during the Christmas Season.

Lighted Chariots of Romance

J and L finding it all rather cozy
 Of course, this is not a sales pitch for the 22nd Annual Riverside Festival of Lights (it doesn't need a blog from the High Desert to sell this wonderful event to the public) but simply a reminder by J and L to go out and take in sights and sounds of nearby towns.

It is truly amazing to find such wonderful surprises close to home.

And what better time than Christmas to explore such an uplifting experience.

Move along now - get a crackin' - did I say that really?!

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