Holidays light up Downtown

By John Kilgore / Staff Writer

A Riverside Wonderland (Khai Le / Online Editor)

By John Kilgore / Staff Writer

Thousands of spectators filled with excitement and ready, gathered around for this year’s 17th Annual Festival of Lights in Downtown Riverside.

As director of property operations, Russ Kitchens knows all about the responsibilities that come with displaying animated figures, garland, ornaments and 3.5 million lights.

“We try to outdo ourselves every year and put up a few more lights, and decorations and characters,” said Kitchens.

The Festival of Lights is an attraction that does not take away from but rather highlights the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa’s $55 million renovation.

Fifteen employees have managed to combine their efforts for the past three months in preparing for the lighting and fireworks ceremony.

Mayor Ron Loveridge kindly addressed the tremendous crowd, speaking with pride about Riverside’s future aspirations.

He was followed by hotel owner Duane Robert’s countdown to the fireworks marking the official opening to this season’s annual Festival of Lights.

Starting at 6:15 p.m. the lights came to life as thunderous claps of multiple explosions took to the air making this an unforgettable fireworks show.

John Mouw and his wife, Cricket Mouw, attended on their anniversary and agreed this was a sight to see.

“There’s a lot of  history here in Riverside,” John said. “It’s awesome, the celebration of Christmas, watching the lights. Its a lot like old town Missouri with the old horse drawn buggies.”

Three stages are set to entertain the crowd and there’s a large skating rink which costs $10 an hour and $3 for skate shoes. Further along Main Street, Santa’s house is perfect for the whole family.

There is also a horse drawn carriage ready for pick-ups.

Riverside City College had its very own Marching Tigers Band delightfully playing Christmas songs for all to listen to.

With cooler temperatures and a chilly evening, children cling, wobble and shimmy as they try not to lose their footing on the ice rink.

Parents offer smiles and shouts of encouragement as their children laugh and play.
The city of Riverside programs over 200 hours of entertainment on the Festival of Lights stage for all to enjoy.

Coming in many different forms of entertainment there’ll be attractions scheduled nightly until Jan. 3.

The Festival of Lights is the community’s chance to enjoy all the entertainment the holiday season has to offer.

For more information on the Festival of Lights go to http://www.RiversideFestivalofLights.com.

Night Lights (John Kilgore / Staff Writer)