Traditionally, San Diego ushers in the Christmas holiday season with a grand community celebration in Balboa Park. Balboa Park December Nights is a two-day gift to the community that brings out the holiday spirit in all. The 2012 edition takes place Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8.
It's hard to believe only a few years ago, this event was on the verge of being canceled. This year marks the 35th anniversary of this must-attend family event, and once again features expanded hours: Friday, Dec. 7, 5 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 8, noon to 10 p.m.
Whether you call it Christmas on the Prado or the more politically correct December Nights, the beloved San Diego event features sparkling lights, theatrical and musical entertainment, and exotic Food/Spirits throughout the Park. The largest free community festival in San Diego, December Nights is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors over two days.
Spending the Christmas holiday season in San Diego has its benefits: the weather is usually mild - in fact December is one of the sunniest months of the year. Which means unlike other parts of the country, we miss out on rituals like shoveling snow - although the nights can get pretty darn chilly this time of year. But that doesn't mean San Diegans lose out on traditional holiday activities...San Diego has plenty of traditional things to do.
Unwrap some magic this holiday season with the festive fun of the 49th Annual North Park Toyland Parade & Holiday Fair. On Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, starting at 11 a.m., the historic neighborhood of North Park will warm up and delight with San Diego's most joyful parade.
Taking place in the middle of North Park on University Avenue between Utah and Iowa Streets, the Toyland Parade has marching bands, upbeat dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens, city officials and more to get you into the holiday mood. And, of course, Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red sleigh with bells ringing, to the excitement of the kids.
Thanksgiving is over so now that we have that out of the way, it's time to get to the real business at hand - shopping. Because we are officially entering the Christmas Holiday Shopping Season, and whether you are exhilarated or you dread this time of year, chances are you are going to have to venture out to do some shopping.
But shopping doesn't always mean heading out to one of San Diego's regional malls, though it is highly likely you'll make your way to one. Instead, shopping can mean checking out your local neighborhood's business district, hitting a weekly farmers market, or even venturing to the swap meet.
In such a mild, warm climate as San Diego's, where you can pretty much do any outdoor activity year round, ice skating isn't something we typically engage in like we would, say, surfing. It's largely a circumstance of geography and climate - we don't freeze our butts off in the winter, so we don't indulge in some of the benefits of winter like frozen lakes and ponds. When you grow up with that, ice skating - and ice hockey by extension - is part of your upbringing.
In any event, there are actually several permanent ice skating rinks in San Diego County and, during the winter holiday season, there sprout a few outdoor ice rinks, to get yourself into the winter wonderland holiday spirit. Now, if ice skating indoors in San Diego is a bit out of place, just think how odd it must be to ice skate outside in 70 degree weather. Only in San Diego.
The Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park gives the power to the people this POP Thursday. Join in an evening of collective creation and channel your inner cat lady for the West Coast premiere of the Walker Art Center's Internet Cat Video Festival. This month's POP Thursday at MOPA takes place on Thursday, Nov. 15. Event begins at 7:00 pm | Films starts at 8:30 pm. Free for MOPA Members, $8 Students, $10 General.
POP Thursday's "Crowd Control" event includes:
- See MOPA's first crowd-sourced exhibition, Soapbox! The Audience Speaks
- Screening of the Internet Cat Video Festival, a revolutionary compilation of viral cat videos
- DIY blending station with North Park's Coffee & Tea Collective
- Installation by J Noland with support from Helmuth Projects
- Street eats from Stand & Deliver, a MIHO experience
- Garage rock by Wild Wild Wets
- Adult libations from Alchemy Restaurant
- Winning photographs from The App Wars, a Hipstamatic vs. Instagram competition
Autumn is generally a good time of the year to explore San Diego County on the hiking trails - the air is crisp, the heat not so relenting, and you might even catch some leaves changing colors. One of the more accessible places for a quick day hike for locals is Mission Trails Regional Park. And within the massive Mission Trails Park, is a hidden gem that also is a genuine part of San Diego's history: the Old Mission Dam.
When Franciscan friars moved Mission San Diego de Alcala from the Presidio to its current location in Mission Valley, the friars scouted out a location about six miles upriver as an ideal spot to construct a dam and basin, but construction wasn't begun until 1809. Indian labor from the mission's population was used to build the dam and flume and it was one of the most ambitious in the California mission chain.
It is a day to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. In 1954, President Eisenhower called upon all of our citizens to observe November 11 as Veterans Day and that the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day. Since 1954 every United States President, every year, has renewed this call to our citizens.
San Diegans can celebrate and honor our service men and women with our 2012 Veterans Day parade, on Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. This year's theme Commemorating the 65th Anniversary of the "Breaking the Sound Barrier" Monday, November 12. The Grand Marshal of the parade is Maj. Gen. Charles (Chuck) Elwood Yeager.
The 2012 Veterans Day Parade route begins at the County Administration building at Cedar and Pacific Highway and runs along Pacific Highway south to Harbor Drive.
Today is Election Day and with it are important choices to make as citizens - for President, for Mayor, for budgets. So, do your part and vote - it's your chance to express your voice and make a difference.