Christmas in the OC
This time of year brings a lot of change to Orange County, CA. Warm autumn nights give way to chilly temps (all the way down to the 40's!) in the evening, days become shorter, retail lines become longer, traffic heavier, and streets a bit brighter thanks to the Christmas lights all around.
Newport Beach & Huntington Beach (I live between both in Costa Mesa) each offer wonderful tree lighting events, with Newport's taking place at Fashion Island, and Huntington's right on Main St. I was away for Newport Beach's lighting this year, but my main photo is the tree in Huntington Beach, lit by Santa Claus himself.
Each year Huntington Beach closes a part of Main St, sets up vendor booths, and welcomes thousands of people to enjoy Christmas music, local choirs, and the ceremonial lighting of the tree. In an odd twist, the 2016 tree lighting was once delayed by rain, and was threatened by rain on the rescheduled day, but things managed to stay dry to make for a great evening. While the Huntington Beach tree is somewhat underwhelming in stature (compared to the ginormous tree in Newport Beach), it's always a special moment to see it light up for the first time.
In the Balboa Island & Newport Peninsula areas, some residents go above & beyond to shine lights on the street and give passerby's quite a show. I wouldn't care to ask what the electric bills look like, but I'm glad that many residents are paying them to spread Christmas cheer and turn just an ordinary walk down the street into an entertainment spectacle.
Next week brings another of my favorite OC Christmas events, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, which runs each night from Wednesday, Dec. 14 thru Sunday, Dec. 18. Opening night will be accompanied by Grand Marshal Mickey Mouse from nearby Disneyland and a fireworks show to get the parade weekend started.
For those interested in checking out the boat parade, waterfront reservations can be tough to come by, but I prefer watching indoors at Billys at the Beach. There are several locations to get a good view, both indoors & out. You can see a list of good locations here.
Orange County, CA offers a ton of great things to do for the holidays - whether it's lights, events, excitement, or relaxation you're after, the OC is a great place to find it -- and the best part? You can leave your winter coat and hat at home - most nights, we get by with a light jacket. It doesn't get any better than Christmas in SoCal!