Lots of Balboa Park December Nights photos!

Here comes a batch of photos taken Friday afternoon and early evening at 2013 December Nights.  If you haven’t been to Balboa Park’s massive holiday festival, you’re really missing out.  Hundreds of thousands of people turn out during the two day event, enjoying colorful lights, decorations, music, Christmas carols, food, entertainment, and just a whole bunch of fun.  Every corner of the park is crammed with stuff to see and do.  And it seems half of San Diego comes out to experience it all!

Some might recall that December Nights was once called Christmas on the Prado.  Fortunately, the event is as joyful, bright, inspirational and heart-warming as ever.  And the crowds seem bigger than ever!

Vendors set up festive booths in courtyard in front of the Museum of Man.
Vendors set up festive booths in courtyard in front of the Museum of Man.
Front of the Old Globe Theatre features a banner of the Dr. Seuss Grinch.
Front of the Old Globe Theatre features a banner of the Dr. Seuss Grinch.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas holiday tree in Balboa Park's theatre complex.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas holiday tree in theatre complex.
Getting ready for the evening crowds in Balboa Park's central plaza on Friday afternoon of December Nights.
Getting ready for crowds in Balboa Park’s central plaza on Friday afternoon.
Funnel cakes, lemonade and kettle corn for the holidays!
Funnel cakes, lemonade and kettle corn for the holidays!
December Nights crowd grows in Spanish Village by late afternoon.
December Nights crowd grows in Spanish Village by late afternoon.
Santa awaits beyond colorful decorations in Spanish Village.
Santa awaits beyond colorful decorations in Spanish Village.
An enormous Christmas tree decorates the stage of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Enormous Christmas tree decorates the stage of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
One nativity scene in the large creche at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
One nativity scene in the large creche at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Tijuana school kids dressed as vaqueros and angels wait to perform at December Nights.
Tijuana school kids dressed as vaqueros and angels wait to perform.
Children perform in front of big Christmas tree on Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Children perform by big Christmas tree on Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
The December Nights fun zone rides will become more active after dark.
The December Nights fun zone rides will become more active after dark.
This guy's shirt wishes everyone a Merry Solstice.
This guy’s shirt wishes everyone a Merry Solstice.
Food and yummy smells can be found all over Balboa Park.
Food and yummy smells can be found all over Balboa Park.
Sunset nears and the tower atop the San Diego Junior Theatre building turns gold.
Sunset nears and the tower atop San Diego Junior Theatre building turns gold.
A December day fades above Balboa Park and the clouds are tinged with color.
A December day fades above Balboa Park and the clouds are tinged with color.
Now the evening crowd is really growing at December Nights!
Now the evening crowd is really growing at December Nights!
Glee Club of Australia kids sing and dance in Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Glee Club of Australia kids sing and dance in Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
One of several Santas in Balboa Park.
One of several Santas in Balboa Park.
San Diego Junior Theatre kids sing Christmas carols.
San Diego Junior Theatre kids sing Christmas carols.
Balboa Park Miniature Train in front of San Diego Zoo lit up with Christmas lights.
Balboa Park Miniature Train in front of San Diego Zoo lit with Christmas lights.
Balboa Park fountain and Natural History Museum illuminated for December Nights.
Balboa Park fountain and Natural History Museum lit up for December Nights.

Poinsettia Christmas tree at Seaport Village.

Poinsettia Christmas tree by Seaport Village carousel.
Poinsettia Christmas tree by Seaport Village carousel.

Every year during the holiday season you can find this enormous bright red Christmas tree standing right next to the Seaport Village carousel.  It’s built entirely of poinsettias!  Lots of visitors enjoy posing for photographs beside it!

Manchester Grand Hyatt towers behind poinsettia Christmas tree at Seaport Village.
Manchester Grand Hyatt towers behind poinsettia Christmas tree at Seaport Village.

Skaters live a fantasy on ice at Horton Plaza.

skaters live a fantasy on ice at horton plaza

It must be the holiday season, because the Fantasy on Ice skating rink has been erected in front of Horton Plaza here in downtown San Diego. I got some pics of carefree people gliding through the sunshine. I snapped this photo while standing right next to the NBC building, at Third Avenue and Broadway. You can see the Balboa Theatre in the background.

More pics:

Beginning ice skaters hang on for dear life!
Beginning ice skaters hang on for dear life!
Christmas tree next to the Horton Plaza ice skating rink.
Christmas tree next to the Horton Plaza ice skating rink.
Fantasy on Ice banners hang along Broadway.
Fantasy on Ice banners hang along Broadway.
Ice skating rink seen from upper level of Horton Plaza.
Ice skating rink in Horton Square, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza.

Surfing Santa arrives by flying a water jetpack!

here comes santa claus with a water jetpack

Wow! Santa returned to San Diego in grand fashion! He’s making his big entrance over the bay using a water jetpack! Here he comes! A huge crowd on the pier just north of Seaport Village was watching with excitement this Saturday afternoon!

Wait! That’s not just a regular, ordinary, everyday daredevil Santa Claus, but the one and only Seaport Village Surfing Santa!

santa is flying high on two jets of water

Surfing Santa rises high above the awestruck crowd to wave and wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Where’s his sack of presents?

santa whirls about in a circle above the bay

Now he’s just showing off. The jolly old guy is jetting about in a circle like a certified maniac with a ridiculously huge beard. The fish below are probably frightened out of their wits. The first time I saw Santa, I was a bit spooked, too.

an elf anxiously awaits surfing santa's arrival

This happy elf and Mrs. Claus patiently awaited old Saint Nick on the pier with a huge throng of onlookers. The reindeer must be taking the weekend off.

surfing santa walks down the pier for his reception

Here he is, larger than life! Surfing Santa! He’s boarded the pier and is making his way to Seaport Village to conduct his usual Santa Claus business.

santa boards pedicab sleigh at seaport village

After boarding a pedicab sleigh, Surfing Santa parades down the bayside walkway while people munching pizza look on in joy and disbelief.

Santa and reindeer fly through Balboa Park.

santa claus rides sleigh in balboa park

Santa Claus and his magical reindeer were recently seen flying through Balboa Park. A photo was snapped as he sped from the central plaza toward the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. There he is waving at happy children and thrilled park visitors!

santa's reindeer fly through balboa park

A second photo was snapped as the reindeer lifted off into the blue San Diego sky, pulling Santa’s sleigh up and away back toward the North Pole!

Old Saint Nick has to prepare for Christmas!

UPDATE!

Santa returned the following year! Here he is!

Santa's sleigh is back again for another Christmas in Balboa Park!
Santa’s sleigh is back again for another Christmas in Balboa Park!
The flying reindeer take once more to the blue San Diego sky!
The flying reindeer take once more to the San Diego sky!

Homeless man sleeps beneath angels.

homeless man sleeps beneath angels

Early this evening, while I walked from work to the trolley station, I spotted this weird but truly wonderful car. I’ve seen it several times in recent months parked in the same area.

As I took out my camera, a man with a green parrot on his shoulder emerged from within and gave a friendly hello. He didn’t mind having photos taken. He claimed pictures of his strange vehicle are all over the internet.

He explained he was homeless. When I asked his name, he replied Peter Pan, followed by numerous other names, all beginning with the letter P.

He was very glad to show off his unique creation!

The roof of the car is topped with numerous bird cages containing angels. The hood features a detailed winter scene with Christmas trees, quaint houses, reindeer and snowmen. On the sides of the car are Christmas ornaments and a variety of snowy scenes from the holiday season, plus images from British literature and classic children’s stories. He pointed out painted pictures of Scrooge and Marley’s office, Mary Poppins with her umbrella, the Baker Street residence of Sherlock Holmes, the Wonkavator from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the flying bed from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He loved pointing out every detail!

He lamented that other homeless people were often mean, tearing off bits of scenery and tossing them over a nearby fence onto the trolley tracks.

I asked Peter Pan if decorating his car was done just for fun, or if he had some larger purpose. He indicated it was his hobby.

I must confess, I love the same classic stories that he loves. Most are joyful fantasies from childhood. (How fitting a bookstore is in this photograph’s background!)

sweet fantasy and the imaginarium carriage

Here’s a close-up pic of the car’s opposite side. The Christmas Imaginarium Carriage appears to be the fantastic vehicle’s name!