AutoMatters+: Season’s Greetings, San Diego Style


Inevitably at this time of year, televised severe weather reports from across the country show cars slipping and sliding across icy streets, stuck in deep snowdrifts or stalled in floods. That reminds me how fortunate those of us who live here in San Diego are. This is a place where people travel on vacation to escape all of that — and there is so much to see and do!

As I learned at, 100 years ago, in honor of the completion of the Panama Canal, San Diego held a yearlong celebration of its innovation, architecture, culture and natural beauty. In 2015 San Diego will be doing it again, this time in celebration of the Balboa Park Exposition Centennial.

Special events — some of which are already under way — include:

• “San Diego Invites the World: The 1915 Expo” at the Veterans Museum & Memorial Center;

• “The International Cultural Plaza 2015,” presented by the World Beat Center;

• “The Discovery of King Tut: His Tomb, His Treasures, The Breathtaking Recreation” at the San Diego Natural History Museum;

• “Ingenious! The World of Dr. Seuss” at the San Diego History Center;

• “Centennial Commemoration Concerts” by the Spreckels Organ Society;

• the energy-efficient LED “Light the Park Project,” with the support of San Diego Gas & Electric and the city of San Diego;

• “All People’s Celebration” by alliance San Diego;

• “2theXtreme — MathAlive!” at the San Diego Air & Space Museum;

• “Human Rights Watch Film Festival;”

• “A Century of Dance” presented by the San Diego Civic Dance Arts program;

• “Balboa Park at 100” presented by the San Diego Art Institute;

• “Imaginate” at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center;

• the “7th Annual Fairy Tales in the Park” by the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet;

• “A Garden Party for the Century”; and so much more.

For information, visit and click on the photos under “Celebrate!” and “Elevate!”

As is our tradition, earlier this month we kicked off the holiday season in San Diego with December Nights in Balboa Park — two days and evenings of festive entertainment, food and activities. This year, 325,000 visitors enjoyed December Nights.

With that behind us, I made plans to go on a photo shoot last Sunday with the Pacific Photographic Society. The event was called Impromptu Sunset Shoot Coronado. Our plan was to shoot the San Diego waterfront skyline from Coronado as the sun was setting. It was beautiful to see the ever-changing reflections on the tall buildings — a sight that is repeated on most days in San Diego.

That was only the beginning of the holiday treat that we were about to enjoy. As it got dark, people of all ages began to gather on the beach in Coronado for the 43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights.

According to, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community — with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated according to a new theme each year. The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is held two consecutive Sundays each year in December. The parade proceeds from Shelter Island past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and Ferry Landing in Coronado. That’s where we were, right beside Ferry Landing and in front of Il Fornaio restaurant. Nearby was a popular, tourist-oriented, boutique-style shopping center with plenty of parking. That is also close to where I watched the Red Bull Air Races a few years ago. The backdrop of the downtown San Diego city skyline is spectacular.

The theme for this year’s San Diego Bay Parade of Lights was “Children’s Stories.” As the boats slowly motored past the San Diego waterfront on the far side of the bay, we enjoyed a flotilla of brightly illuminated Christmas trees and storybook characters. Then the boats made a wide turn and slowly headed back, this time to parade in front of us.

Not only were there colorful lights and decorations, but music, too. A least one of the boats had a large choir aboard. They entertained appreciative spectators with Christmas carols. Another popular boat was named “Whoville” for the fictional town in Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The spectators applauded and cheered as the familiar soundtrack played. The boats made a couple of slow passes around the bay, and then this holiday treat was over.

I wish you all the very best of Season’s Greetings! As always, please write to with your comments and suggestions.

Copyright © 2014 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters+ #363