Saturday, November 26, 2011


It's a tradition here in the Land of the Dirt People. Not mine, tonight was the first time that I have attended other than in an on-duty official capacity. I don't think this will become our tradition either. Cool as it is, the crowds are a little more than I like to deal with.

It's called the Festival of Lights Switch On Ceremony and it's been a tradition for the past 19 years. A local hotel is adorned with 1.3 million lights for the holiday season. They start on the project several months in advance and they switch on the lights for the first time on the Friday after thanksgiving.

You know it's a big deal when you see three news vans from the L.A. stations set up on the periphery, one doing a live remote.

Another clue is the crowds. Last year's was estimated at over a quarter of a million people, I am sure that there was at least that many there tonight.

The crowd completely surrounded the hotel, a large one that takes up an entire block. A stage was set that was populated by dignitaries and the guy that owns the hotel, The mayor and the hotel owner spoke for a few minutes. I didn't mind listening to the hotel owner, as he is paying for most of this event, he should get to speak.

Thankfully, both the mayor and the owner were short-winded so after a short while the switch was thrown. 

The result was immediate and impressive. Not only did the lights come on, but a fireworks display was initiated as well.

The lights are somewhat overpowered by the fireworks, but that is OK. The lights will be on until January 8th, the fireworks are just for tonight.

After the fireworks, we attempted to walk around the block. We made it most of the way, but the pedestrian mall was just too crowded to get through, so we by-passed that side. We did manage to see most of the sights though.

It was truly a beautiful sight, I am told the hotel books up many months in advance for this event. One of our BC's booked a room for this, I am sure he enjoyed the view.

I don't know what the hotel spends on this display, I'm sure it isn't cheap. Regardless, I am grateful for their efforts as the results are spectacular.

These photos don't do it justice. If you like Christmas lights and are ever in the Land of the Dirt People during the Christmas season, stop by the Mission Inn hotel, have a drink, then walk the block. You won't be disappointed.
Thanks for reading,


  1. Awesome photos of the display. My only thought was I hope the curtains are thick. Wondered if the room is dark enough so I could sleep in peace with the amount of light coming from all those lights.

  2. Lisa - Thanks, I'm glad you like them. As to the curtains, I'm pretty sure that they darken things down pretty well. I think that they have been doing this for 19 years and have it worked out to perfection.

    I am told that if you want to stay at the hotel the night of the Switch On ceremony, you need to make reservations almost a year in advance. That ceremony must be good for business.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. That hotel is so pretty this time of year. My mom actually lived there when it used to be apartments.

  4. Mr. Police Man - I remember when those were apartments. A buddy and I snuck in there a few times to check the place out.

    As a young firefighter, I used to hope that if it ever caught fire, I would be on duty when it went up. It would have been a hell of a fire! As I got older, I prayed that I wouldn't be anywhere near it if it burned. I was glad that the city required it to be sprinkled when Mr. Roberts renovated it - It will save lives.

    Thanks for the comment.