Just De-Light-Ful

The days around Halloween and Christmas are some of the only times when I add night explorations of the city to my regular daytime walks. I will admit to often driving, rather than walking, when going out in the dark, for a variety of reasons. But the end is always worth it: the glorious seasonal displays that some people erect every year are a sight to behold.

As usual, this year I targeted a couple of known houses, but kept my eyes open for interesting displays along the way. This one, for instance, that I think is located on Topaz Street (I regret that I neglected to take notes; feel free to write in if you know otherwise):

I’m not normally a big one for inflatables, but something about this display appeals to me. And I love the sheets of LED lights lining the fences.

I saw the above while heading to the nearly over-the-top display at 411 Topaz St., which is very much worth a visit. I took plenty of pictures, but pictures can’t really do this display justice. Here is what it looks like from the street:

Enter the front courtyard, though (the electronic sign above the courtyard entry beckons you step on in), and you’ll find yourself literally surrounded by a truly amazing display. As I noted, my photos cannot do it justice, but here is one showing just part of that inner display:

Here, too, I found myself particularly tickled by one of the display’s inflatable elements: the snowman visible on the roof in the above photo, whose teeth are chattering…

No tour of Redwood City’s holiday light displays would be complete without a visit to the incredible spectacle that greets both your eyes and ears at the corner of Valota Road and Vera Avenue. This one you really need to spend a little time at: the various displays are highly animated, and well-synchronized to the music. Thus, be sure and park nearby (you can use the parking lots in Red Morton Park; the one by the Magical Bridge Playground off Valota Road is a good choice) and spend a little time out amidst this amazing display.

Here is the house where this display, which has spilled well across the street and into the park, began some years ago:

That large tower towards the right side of the photo is located in the park; pretty much everything else you see is the house itself. But there is far more in the park than just the tower. For instance, there is the “light tunnel” through which you can walk:

There are also a number of illuminated trees:

Finally, there are laser effects:

Very impressive. This display begins each night at 6:30 p.m., and should run to (through?) January 1.

I always make it a point during the holiday season to visit the one-block-long Dewey Street, which at this time of year is temporarily rechristened “Candy Cane Lane”:

Here you’ll find a number of charming seasonal displays, most of which are relatively static and thus serve as a bit of a respite from the barrage of multimedia activity over at Vera and Valota. I recommend walking the length of this particular street, if only so that you can partake of the hot cocoa and other goodies that at least one house is giving out. But walking also gives you an opportunity to study the displays, and perhaps get some ideas of your own.

I love the “old-school” flats that some of the houses exhibit on Candy Cane Lane:

But if yards crammed with LEDs are more your thing, Candy Cane Lane has those, too:

Finally, one house that always intrigues me is the one on the northwest corner of Hopkins Avenue and Myrtle Street. Some years ago, I believe, they took the time and considerable effort to wrap the trunk of a massive redwood tree with lights, lights that I’m sure stay up all year ‘round (but are only illuminated during the holiday season). Driving up Hopkins Avenue towards Alameda de las Pulgas at night, this tree (which is just a little ways in along Myrtle Street) is rather hard to miss:

The above is a photograph I took of the tree using my digital SLR. My wife took one with her smartphone, however, and I just had to include her image, given the spectacular enhancements that the smartphone made:

Don’t expect the tree in real life to look like her photo. But what a display, eh?

I keep my own decorations simple; don’t expect to ever see my own house on a list of Redwood City’s best decorated. But there is such a list: the city once again held its now-annual “Holly Jolly Home Decorating Contest,” and has announced the winners (411 Topaz St. being the “Judges Favorite”). Click that link for not only the list, but a map showing their locations and a video of the contest winners.

Sadly, as I write this, tonight (Friday) is what may be the final ever night for Bethlehem A.D., the free, walk-through living nativity that is put on at 1312 Middlefield Rd.

This is an incredible twenty-minute experience (in both English and Spanish) that has been held on the site for many years now. But the property has been sold and is soon to be redeveloped (with affordable housing; how’s that for appropriate), so unless the church across the street who puts on this holiday favorite can find a new location, tonight, December 23, from 6 – 9:30 p.m. may be your last ever chance to experience it in person. Curious? There of course is a video.

Although I of course did my usual walks and took lots of other pictures, that’ll do for this week. Next week, weather permitting, I hope to get back out to the county’s Navigation Center site, where the next phase of module installation should soon take place. And I’m hoping that I’ll be able to once again have a front-row seat, from the extended Blomquist Street which, last week, I saw getting paved:

Stay safe, everyone, and stay dry (we’re in for a solid wet spell starting on Monday). And enjoy the season, however you choose to celebrate.

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