Newport Dunes Tradition: Lighting of the Bay

Glittery "trees" will reflect water, starting on Saturday, Nov. 29.

TREES, IN ALL THE WAYS: People who call Southern California home very often say they're very glad to live here, and the weather and landscape are a large part of that particular love. We have a variety of destinations, from mountaintop to seafront, which means, come the holidays, that our most spectacular sights very often fold festively with, or nicely mirror, their natural surroundings. Think of snowy firs up around Big Bear, or the WildLights of The Living Desert out east, or all of the trees that do that sparkle-light-y majestic thing when placed in the vicinity of water. We happen to have a good amount of water adjacent to Southern California, you might have heard, and the traditions that happen on and along our H20 do nicely mirror, quite literally, the place they're in. The Lighting of the Bay at Newport Dunes does just that, thanks to 50 trees that glitter twice, once as themselves and once as their reflection, near the resort. Santa Claus himself does the flip-switching honors, always around Thanksgiving, and he will again on Saturday, Nov. 29. But unlike the last several years -- The Lighting of the Bay trees have been around for over two decades -- the party will stretch, time-wise, into the daytime. So arrive on the early side, ahead of dusk, for...

AN ICE SCULPTURE WONDERLAND: Visitors can wander among the pieces created by sculptor Roland Hernandez, or hop a Polar Express train that's running throughout the day around the resort, or watch a "choir off" between two local high schools, or take in all of the above. A screening of "Polar Express" shall go down on the beach -- that's an interesting meeting of snow and sand -- and Santa will arrive, by paddleboard, for the 6 p.m. turning on of the water trees. Shouldn't Santa always travel by paddleboard around the OC's paddleboard-laden harbors? It's way local, is the thing, but so is a decoration reflecting its SoCal surroundings. Sometimes, quite literally.

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