AutoMatters & More: ‘December Nights’ celebration returns to Balboa Park

Living Christmas Tree Story
Living Christmas Tree Story
(Jan Wagner)
Share

A favorite tradition in San Diego has long been the annual “December Nights” in beautiful Balboa Park — a kickoff celebration to the holiday season, in which almost the entire park participates in a gigantic, open house. The coronavirus pandemic changed all of that, since it made large gatherings of people unsafe and therefore out of the question. For the past two Decembers “December Nights” as we knew it became, out of necessity, a drive-through, food trucks sort of event. Now that there are effective treatments for COVID-19 (including preventative vaccinations and Paxlovid), and after an agonizingly long gap of three years, a full-scale celebration of “December Nights” returned to Balboa Park, on its traditional dates of the first Friday and Saturday in December. You can see some of my hundreds of photos, as well as coverage from previous years, at https://automatters.net. Just type “December Nights” into the Search Bar in the middle of the Home Page.

Balboa Park December Nights
Balboa Park December Nights
(Photo of logo by Jan Wagner)

To help visitors navigate “December Nights,” the Fleet Science Center provided free maps and simplified schedules. Museums opened free-of-charge, some with “make-&-take” crafts opportunities, singers and dancers entertained on outdoor stages around the park, hand-made crafts were available for purchase, and there were numerous food and merchandise vendors.

House of Pacific Relations International Cottages opened — offering visitors ethnic entertainment and traditional foods representative of those found in the home countries. As in past years, the House of Spain prepared giant pans of their fantastic paella. I took home a tin filled with fresh baked goods from the House of England, and once I began to eat them I could not stop until I finished the whole entire tin!

San Diego Civic Dance Arts
San Diego Civic Dance Arts
(Jan Wagner)

At the International Cottages’ outdoor stage, I shot a lot of video at was an especially emotional presentation by the House of Ukraine, in which a host defiantly discussed the tragedy that Russia has brought to that country through war.

A young woman passionately sang the Ukrainian national anthem — and more, to the accompaniment of her father on guitar. He is recording a documentary in Ukraine.

A choir that included a young amputee named Ivan — who was run over by a Russian tank, proudly sang traditional songs in Ukrainian; and an adorable little four-year-old girl named Carolina — whose home in Mariupol was destroyed in February by Russia, and whose father is still in Ukraine, sang “Czerwona Kalina” — a famous wartime song that was covered by Pink Floyd and Andriy Khlyvnyuk in a video titled “Hey Hey Rise Up” (youtu.be/zIVihsY7I8I), in support of the Ukrainian resistance.

Here is a YouTube link to my VIDEO of inspirational Ukrainian songs, sung by the community at the House of Ukraine in Balboa Park:
youtu.be/DqK9uOh7VCs

There was a reenactment of the story of Christmas at the ‘Living Christmas Tree’ in the Organ Pavilion, and much more.

House of Ukraine choir
House of Ukraine choir
(Jan Wagner)

The incredible variety of scheduled entertainment and activities also included the Raylin Cloggers, the San Diego City Guard Band, the eKlectic Dance Company, Ballet Folklorico la Joya de Mexico, Billy Lee & the Gulf Coasters, line dance lessons by Greg Benusa and Lori King, the Brian Jones Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival, flamenco with Roots Performing Arts, the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, “On The Town” by the JCompany Youth Theatre, the Legendary Lion Dance Association, Mariachi Victoria de San Diego, the Makana Kai Polynesian Dance Troupe, the San Diego Civic Dance Arts with Rockettes-style dancing, the Old Globe Theater with the Grinch and Scrooge, the San Diego Zoo with Skyfari rides over the zoo, the San Diego Natural History Museum with the Pomerado Brass Quintet and the TubaFours, the Japanese Friendship Garden with cultural demonstrations, the San Diego Air & Space Museum with holiday music and the Fleet Science Museum with the opportunity to build your own tiny cardboard Gingerbread House in Studio X.

Brian Jones Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival
Brian Jones Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival
(Jan Wagner)

“December Nights” is an extremely popular event, attracting visitors to converge on Balboa Park from all around San Diego County. To minimize your time spent in traffic, I strongly advise that when you go to “December Nights,” go early.

To learn more about the annual “December Nights” celebration in Balboa Park, visit: https://www.sandiego.gov/december-nights. For coverage of past years’ “December Nights” events, including lots of photos, simply search for “December Nights” in the Search bar in the middle of the “AutoMatters & More” Home Page at https://automatters.net.

To see the most photos and the latest text, and to explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, visit “AutoMatters & More” at https://automatters.net. On the Home Page, search by title or topic, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #770r2


Advertisement