If you've ever glanced out a plane window just after sunset, and that plane just left Los Angeles International Airport, and you happened to be in a window seat, you may have done that whole neck-craning thing in order to find a few local landmarks below.
You might look for the lights of Avalon, out on Catalina Island. You might glance in the direction of downtown's skyscrapers. And you are probably, definitely, scanning for the glow of the Pacific Wheel, Santa Monica Pier's tall and turny symbol.
And while it did remain "turny" over the last few weeks, the Ferris wheel's lights were mostly out. Why? Because an upgrade was in the works, involving a new LED system, one that'll break out new colors and depend upon less energy.
So when can you again look out the window of a plane, or stand on the pier, and admire this fresh, straight-from-the-future illumination? The lights at the Pacific Wheel are set to sparkle, post-update, starting on the evening of Thursday, May 26.
It so happens to be Pacific Park's 20th birthday -- that's the game- and ride-laden area that the Pacific Wheel calls home -- and a few special doings will be happening over Memorial Day Weekend.
One? Look for the park "...to showcase the Ferris wheel's new high-tech lighting capabilities each evening with a custom display of birthday patterns and designs."
And two? Riders early in the day will nab a free Lappert's birthday cake-flavored ice cream cone at Scoops, if those riders happen to be the first 200 people to take a spin on the Ferris wheel.
True, day means lights off, but, you know, there's ice cream.
If you're a pier person, through and through, and you need more pier-tastic experiences, be back at the water's edge on Sunday, June 12 when The Looff Hippodrome marks its first century of carousel-housing awesomeness.
And as for being guaranteed a Pacific Wheel sighting, at night, from a plane? It might happen, or it might not -- depends on the plane.
But knowing that a famous, fabulously lit-up Ferris wheel is turning somewhere nearby is a local pleasure many Southern Californians keep close to their still-a-kid-at-heart hearts.