3,000,000 little shining lights

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By Courtney Grabendike

By Courtney Grabendike

When the Mission Inn goes Christmas, it is a clear indication that the holidays are here.

On Nov. 28, the 16th annual Festival of Lights kicked off with its traditional lighting ceremony.

All at once, over 3 million lights were revealed in a twinkling spectacle. It was truly something to see. That is if you could see above the thousands of people standing all around.

The ceremony started with speakers including Mayor Ronald Loveridge.

Loveridge thanked everyone for coming and continued with a speech that couldn’t be heard.

The Mission Inn was not adequately wired to accommodate the crowd it drew for the event.

While some may have been able to follow what was going on, thousands of people standing across the street were talking amongst themselves because no one could hear what was being said.

After the speeches were complete and the K-6 coloring awards were handed out, the sky above the Mission Inn was illuminated by a fireworks show beyond belief.

Lasting about three minutes, fire in shades of red, green, gold and white shot straight into the sky allowing everyone who attended to enjoy the show.

While many people left when the fireworks ended, some stuck around to enjoy the festivities complementing the night.

The ice skating rink was introduced two years ago and has returned this year. It is located in the Main Street Pedestrian Mall between University and Mission Inn Avenue. The cost is $10 an hour in addition to the $3 skate rental fee.

Also, holiday themed vendors and an events stage were set up and will continue to provide entertainment and food to festival attendees every night until Jan. 4.

The festivities begin around 2 p.m. everyday and end as late as 8 p.m.

The Mission Inn is open for visitors to walk through even if they are not staying at the hotel. If standing shoulder to shoulder with a stranger sounds fun, then a walk through the Mission Inn is right for you.

While the idea of bringing citizens downtown to enjoy the lighting and share in city pride is impressive, the event has become too large to enjoy.

Between the hundreds of strollers being pushed through the crowds and the inadequate sound planning, it was more of a hassle than fun.

For those who don’t enjoy crowds but still wish to take in the scene, mid-week visits offer just that.

Parking is free in some places and metered in others and there is no admission fee to the festival. Festivities end Jan. 4.

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