Saturday, December 13, 2008

RRPC: Tucson's Holiday Haven

It's Round Robin time again! This week's Challenge, Round Robin Challenge: Hometown Holiday Decorations, comes to us from RRPC's own Carly of the blog Ellipsis. She asks to see "public holiday decorations around the town you live in." Still stinging from the time a security guard rebuked me for taking photos at a mall, I tried to go for something municipal rather than commercial.

But Tucson isn't the sort of place that gets heavily into public holiday decorations. Oh, inside the malls you get the usual, and there are thousands of private houses that get heavily decorated, but Tucson isn't big on "Christmas time in the city." For starters, it just doesn't have the climate for that sort of thing. And downtown, despite revitalization efforts, really isn't the sort of place one goes to ooh and ahh at the beautiful sights.

Look! A holiday decoration downtown, commemorating snow. Ooh. Ah.

I went downtown anyway. Cayenne and Pepper didn't understand the long detour before we got to the dog park, but they were reasonably patient. And lo and behold, I found public decorations! Besides the light display of a coach and horses at the top of this entry, there were a few paltry snowflakes and such scattered every couple of blocks. They probably would look better after dark, but not significantly so.

Having seen pretty much what I'd expected to see downtown, I took the dogs to Miko's Corner, where the moon hid behind clouds and trees but the sunset was spectacular. Adjacent to the dog park, more or less, is Reid Park Zoo, which is having a holiday night display on weekends from 6 to 8 PM. But the dogs were with me, and I didn't want to spend three or four bucks to take a few photos while the dogs waited in the car. So I drove to Winterhaven instead.

LED lights and a Christmas street lamp display at Winterhaven.

Winterhaven is a neighborhood just north of Ft. Lowell Rd. between Country Club and Tucson Boulevard. It's been around long enough that many of the trees are over a hundred feet tall, and I don't mean palm trees. In Winterhaven, there's a tradition of everyone decorating for the holidays. They don't get 100% compliance, but it's enough of a big deal that approximately 100,000 visitors come from all over the city each year to see the Winterhaven Festival of Lights.

My favorite house display in Winterhaven features a giant dreidel.

Most nights during the official festival period, which this year runs from Saturday, December 13th to Saturday, December 27th, visitors can see the lights only on foot or by trolley or horse-drawn haywagon. There are three drive-through nights (December 16th, 18th and 27th), and that's always bumper to bumper.

Winterhaven residents assemble their display. Enchantment Under the Sea?

But purely by chance, I was there the night before everything started up officially. Most houses were decorated but quite a few were not, and many houses had whole families (or in a few cases just Dad) outside working on their displays. According to the Winterhaven website, the public strings of lights have "gone green" with Tucson Electric Power helping the neighborhood replace 300 strands of traditional bulbs with 0.1 watt LED) lights, reducing energy consumption by over 98 percent the festival's carbon footprint by 30,000 pounds.

One highly-decorated house proclaims itself a "Winter Wonder Land"

The Festival of Lights has been going on every year since 1950. It's free to the public, but they collect donations of cans and cash for the Tucson Community Food Bank. I will have more pictures of individual displays from Winterhaven, and perhaps a few from my own neighborhood, tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, let's see Christmas decorations on other people's hometowns!

Linking List

Carly - Posted!

Family Affair Photography

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mavarin

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories


Marina **Welcome New Member** - Posted!

Strong Chemistry

Suzanne R - Posted!
SuzyQ421's Photo Blog

Liz - Posted!
Visual Counterpoint


Connie - Posted!
Far Side Of Fifty Photos

Wammy - Posted!
The Ellis Family Cincinnati

Sherrie - Posted!
Sherrie's Stuff

Marie - Posted!
Photographs & Memories

Valerie **Welcome New Member** - Posted!
Rosemary's Other Baby

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

Teena in Toronto - Posted!
It's all about me!



Carly said...

Hi Karen

I LOVE the dreidel, but, ummm... in picture #5 is that a giant banana or an octopus? LOL. Whatever it is, I love the smile on it's face. How cute is that?


Teena in Toronto said...

I love looking at Christmas lights at night!

I played too :)

Suzanne R said...

You have such a variety of holiday-decorated spots to choose from in Tucson. They are all very interesting!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Hi Karen! All those lights and warmth too! Seems the best of both worlds. Thanks for the tour! I bet the Stage coach and horses is awesome at night! :)

Liz said...

I too liked the scene with the dreidel and I thought the lit trees seemed to resemble fans. The effect of serenity is hard to achieve with lights but your photograph captured it well:)

Gattina said...

I think it's enough decoration, sometimes it's too much. It's not so much the use to decorate private houses outside in the gardens. People decorate windows with lights and at the door usually hangs a wreath, but that's it.