This time of year I find myself drawn to a fabulous Botanical Garden that features a really breathtaking Holiday light display. The history states that a community tradition was born in 1987 when some community members decided to "string a few lights" to help celebrate the holidays. That first season, 6,000 miniature lights, one Christmas tree, and the decorated Garden House drew 9,000 visitors. Now, more than a quarter million lights - both holiday and landscaping - many Christmas trees, lighted sculptures, entertainment in the pavilion, and a beautifully decorated Garden House draw 40,000 to 50,000 visitors each season. Numbers vary with the weather. It is really amazing.
This is one holiday tradition I refuse to ever let go. Rain or chill....we'll be there. In fact, my favorite visit there was when it was lightly snowing. It was incredibly beautiful. At that time, I had only been a few times. From that year forward I made it my mission to get there every year. In fact, a friend and I volunteered there for about 4 years. One year, I was HUGE pregnant, and the next I spent four hours carrying a nearly 11 month old Sugar Bear in my Mei Tei front carrier. She helped me greet guests, hand out brochures, and pass out cookies and apple cider. It was wonderful.
The past two years though, have been the best. Sugar is old enough to be completely and utterly amazed by the lights. I adore following her around the garden, and pointing out the displays. She has great joy, lots of excitement, and sheer delight. What a blessing to share such Holiday memories.
Being that it is located on the coast, the theme is obviously Oceanic. There are large sea life sculptures made of lights. Some of which feature animation. Sugar Bear is really taken with the ones that appear to actually move. There is a leaping frog, that jumps from a lily pad in the pond, high in the air, then splashes down in the water. This is one of Sugar's favorites. I am not sure if it is the frog, or that fact that it is incredibly hard not to stand, stare, and be mesmerized by all the lights in the bushes surrounding the pond...and then....oh then...ther is the REFLECTION. I am not certain I have ever seen anything so beautiful in my life(besides Sugar Bear of course..wink wink).
In the pond, year round, there are two bronze crane sculptures. Nothing compares to the sight of those two figures bathed in the lighted beauty. One of these years, when I don't have to worry about Sugar Bear falling into the water, I'll be able to bring my tripod, and get a proper shot of this incredible scene.
Of course one of the best parts of the evening is heading into the garden house, and warming up with hot apple cider, and a cookie. YUMMO! For kids, and those not wanting a hot drink, there is also apple lemonade. Sugar and her cousins gave this part of the adventure a big thumbs up.
Inside the garden house, there are four differently decorated Christmas trees, and some really creative holiday decor which includes a fun Santa Doll taking a big bubble bath in the upstairs bathroom. Don't worry...there are LOTS of bubbles. No X-rated stuff here. This year, I fell in love with the ocean themed tree in the main room. Very natural shell and fish ornaments, and white and blue lights on a flocked tree. Stunning!
One of my favorite displays is the large grey whale. The big white spout is animated. I love the bright blue and white against the tall dark fir trees. This year, I managed to catch a bit of the beautiful night sky in the top right corner of the photo I took.
In my opinion, this trip was certainly one of the best yet. The sky was clear. Sugar Bear was excited. It wasn't over crowded. We had a great time. Each year, I learn more and more about photography, and I look forward to a few years from now, when I can let Sugar roam around with her cousins, and some responsible adult (tee hee), and just take my time photographing everything I see with a tripod, to minimize shake. In the mean time, I think these photos get the idea across. My SIL blessed my heart by snapping a quick shot of the Sug and I. I am not at all certain what I was doing with my eyes in this photo, but I am quite certain my heart was FULL.