Fun photos of 2017 Christmas on the Prado!

Energetic elves run about the colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park!
Energetic elves run about the colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park!

Look at all these fun photos! I took them today in Balboa Park, where the 2017 Community Christmas Center’s “Christmas on the Prado” is being held, even as I type this.

I caught the very beginning of the annual family-friendly event. Various activities and musical entertainment on the stage of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion emphasize the religious importance and meaning of Christmas. The central feature is an extensive life-size nativity display showing Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.

When I walked around Balboa Park during the afternoon, I noticed other holiday decorations are going up all throughout the park. Next weekend the big December Nights event will be held, which is one of the nation’s most popular and spectacular holiday festivals!

Even with that smile, you can't fool me Mrs. Claus! That's not really Santa!
Even with that smile, you can’t fool me Mrs. Claus! That’s not a real Santa!
A bunch of folk from the North Pole were getting ready as Christmas on the Prado was almost set to open.
A bunch of folk from the North Pole were getting ready among toys as Christmas on the Prado was almost set to open.
These outstanding U.S. Marines were collecting Toys for Tots during the annual family-friendly event.
These outstanding U.S. Marines were collecting Toys for Tots during the annual family-friendly event.
I learned kids would be playing pin-the-carrot-on-the-snowman!
I learned kids would be playing pin-the-carrot-on-the-snowman!
First up to sing were those elves. They attend Dailard Elementary School. Funny songs included Silly Humans and Elfie Selfie.
First up to sing were those elves. They attend Dailard Elementary School. Funny songs included Silly Humans and Elfie Selfie.
Lots of parents were in the large crowd waving.
Lots of parents were in the large crowd waving.
This elf probably thought I was a silly human, who asked her to smile for my camera!
This elf probably thought I was a silly human, who asked her to smile for my camera!
Christmas on the Prado emphasizes the religious importance of the holiday. Scenes in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion show Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.
Christmas on the Prado emphasizes the religious importance of the holiday. Scenes in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion show Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.
I spy four smiling faces in this photo. Can you count them?
I spy four smiling faces in this photo. Can you count them?
As the evening becomes chilly, a line will form at the Gingerbread House for cookies, cocoa and coffee.
As the evening becomes chilly, a line will form at the Gingerbread House for cookies, cocoa and coffee.

Here are some additional photos from around Balboa Park today. The first two I took at the International Cottages…

A beautiful small Christmas tree inside the House of Sweden cottage.
A beautiful small Christmas tree inside the House of Sweden cottage.
Visitors to the House of Norway were making all sorts of holiday crafts.
Visitors to the House of Norway cottage were making all sorts of holiday crafts.
Artists were selling their work not far from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. I spied some truly amazing Christmas artwork created by Katrina Bittar. I learned that the core of each delicate piece is papier-mâché.
Artists were selling their work on some grass near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. I spied some truly amazing Christmas artwork created by Katrina Bittar. I learned that the core of each delicate piece is papier-mâché.
All sorts of fun holiday stuff can be found in Balboa Park's Spanish Village Art Center. Seems it's going to be a Meowy Christmas!
All sorts of fun holiday stuff can be found in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center. Appears it’s going to be a Meowy Christmas!
I bought 3 bags of cookies from this happy elf in front of the Casa del Prado. I believe funds were being raised for the San Diego Junior Theatre.
I bought 3 bags of cookies from this happy elf in front of the Casa del Prado. I believe funds were being raised for the San Diego Junior Theatre.
A bunch of elves are running loose in Balboa Park!
A bunch of elves are running loose in Balboa Park!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Team of Santas urges kids to eat healthy food!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

People playing Over The Line on Fiesta Island today had to be blinking their eyes. They didn’t just see Santa Claus striding across the sand–they saw a whole team of jolly Santas!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity is competing this year in the OMBAC World Championship Over The Line Tournament in San Diego! And they’re spreading the important message that kids should eat healthy, nutritious food!

The unique team of Santas is organized by “Sustainable Santa” Richard Eckfield, and its members were observed this morning parading around the island handing out carrots and talking about the dangers of processed, sugary junk food and the rise of childhood obesity. Supported by several sponsors and the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, their mission is simply to promote healthy eating habits for children. “Healthy, Happy and Fit for Life!”

Members of Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity can also be seen from time to time at farmers markets across San Diego County. They encourage children to eat real, honest-to-goodness wholesome food.

Will they win the OTL Camummy Division this year? I don’t know. I do know these Santas have a winning message!

You might like to follow the Santa & Mrs Claus for Healthy Children Facebook page!

Unlike most presents unwrapped at Christmas, good health is a gift that will last a long, merry, magical lifetime!

Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy Bill Swank.
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Image courtesy Bill Swank.)
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

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Santa eats lots of pizza in Little Italy!

Santa Claus appeared this morning in Little Italy. He bought a yummy pizza at Landini's Pizzeria. I guess a good pizza is hard to come by at the North Pole.
Santa Claus appeared this morning in Little Italy. He bought a yummy pizza at Landini’s Pizzeria. I guess a good pizza is hard to come by at the North Pole.

I didn’t expect to see Santa this morning in Little Italy! What was he doing there?

I walked up and down India Street spying on the exploits of Santa and his merry Christmas pals. Read the photo captions and you’ll learn what I discovered…

Possibly to flag down Santa while he flew by overhead, a Buon Natale banner was hung on a street lamp in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood.
Possibly to flag down Santa while he flew by overhead, a Buon Natale banner was hung on a street lamp in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.
Apparently Santa left his sleigh and went into Filippi's Pizza Grotto to get another pizza.
Apparently Santa left his sleigh and went into Filippi’s Pizza Grotto to get another pizza.
I hope Santa doesn't neglect to put those presents in his sleigh under the Little Italy Christmas tree.
I hope Santa doesn’t neglect to put those presents in his sleigh under the Little Italy Christmas tree.
Thank goodness! He hasn't forgotten. Strange, but now he's flying a train onto rooftops. When you're full of Christmas magic, you can do things like that.
Thank goodness! He hasn’t forgotten. Strange, but now he’s flying a train onto rooftops. When you’re full of Christmas magic, you can do things like that.
I wonder if this nutcracker likes pizza. Chances are he prefers walnuts.
I wonder if this nutcracker likes pizza. Chances are he prefers walnuts.
Rudolph and an elf are also hanging out in Little Italy while Santa pays his visit. It seems everyone loves Italian food!
Rudolph and an elf are also hanging out in Little Italy while Santa pays his visit. It seems all sorts of odd folk love Italian food!
I hope and pray Santa brought lots of gifts. He'd better not forget Little Italy's poinsettia tree in Piazza Basilone.
I hope and pray Santa brought lots of gifts. He’d better not forget Little Italy’s poinsettia tree in Piazza Basilone.
That's nice. This elf brought candy canes. Obviously, Santa with his big jolly belly likes to constantly eat.
That’s nice. This happy elf brought candy canes. Obviously, Santa with his big jolly belly likes to constantly eat.
Candy canes and pasta in a window of an Italian market. Perhaps it's a tasty combination, perhaps not.
Candy canes and pasta in a window of an Italian market. Perhaps it’s a tasty combination, perhaps not.
Hey Santa! I see you're still hanging around Little Italy. You must be really hungry.
Hey Santa! I see you’re still hanging around Little Italy. You must be really hungry!
Santa can't get enough Italian food, it seems. He has already grown pale from hunger. Time for more pizza.
Santa can’t get enough to eat, it seems. He accidentally stepped into a foodless Little Italy shop and has already grown pale from hunger. Time for more pizza!
What is Frosty the Snowman up to in that window.
Wait!  What is Frosty the Snowman up to in that window?
Oh, dear! Frosty grabbed the pizza! What will Santa do.
Oh, dear! Frosty grabbed the pizza! What will Santa do?

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Ho, ho, ho! To chuckle at some perfectly silly short stories, check out my blog Foolyman Stories!

Searching for Santa at December Nights!

This might be Santa and Mrs. Claus walking happily through Balboa Park during 2016 December Nights. At least, there's a good chance. Right?
This might be Santa and Mrs. Claus walking happily through Balboa Park during 2016 December Nights. At least, there’s a good chance. Right?

I went to December Nights this afternoon hoping to photograph Santa Claus. December Nights is one of the largest festivals in the United States that celebrates the holiday season, so one would suppose Old Saint Nick might drop on by. This year I headed home before dark, before the glittering Christmas lights turned on, and before the really huge crowds!

Because I left before nightfall, I missed seeing jolly Bill “Santa” Swank spreading good cheer at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Check out his book Christmas in San Diego! It’s all about the history of Christmas in our fair city.  I feel very honored that Cool San Diego Sights has a bunch of photos in it!

Now, did I have any success locating the real, actual, honest-to-goodness Santa Claus this afternoon at December Nights? You be the judge!

Over 300,000 people are attending December Nights this year. Surely good old Santa Claus is present somewhere in this crowd.
Over 300,000 people are attending December Nights this year. Surely good old Santa Claus is present somewhere in this crowd.
Look! Over there! I think I see Santa wearing sunglasses! Oops. Just a vendor selling treats during December Nights.
Look! Over there! I think I see Santa wearing sunglasses! Oops. Just a vendor selling treats during December Nights.
These fun but sadly inanimate Santas are made of beads!
These fun (but sadly inanimate) Santas are made of beads!
You guys aren't Santa. You can't fool me! You're elves from the North Pole.
You guys aren’t Santa. You can’t fool me! You’re elves from the North Pole.
With so many Santa ornaments and gifts everywhere, one might conclude that Old Saint Nick is actually a very astute businessman.
With so many Santa ornaments and gifts everywhere, one might conclude that Old Saint Nick is actually a very astute businessman.
Oh, goodness gracious! A fan man Santa Claus waving arms like a silly goof! Nothing is sacred anymore.
Oh, goodness gracious! A “fan man” Santa Claus waving his arms like a silly goof! Nothing is sacred anymore.
I see the image of Kris Kringle toting a sack of presents just about everywhere. So the actual guy has to be around here somewhere.
I see the image of Kris Kringle toting a sack of presents just about everywhere. So, logically, the actual guy has to be around here somewhere.
I've seen this Santa before. He hangs out in Balboa Park every holiday season. But his sled doesn't actually fly. It's all a complete fake. Impostor!
I’ve seen this Santa before. He hangs out in Balboa Park every holiday season. But his sled doesn’t actually fly. It’s all a complete fake. Impostor!
Tried to fool me again! That isn't Father Christmas! It's Snoopy!
Tried to fool me again! That isn’t Father Christmas! It’s Snoopy!
If Santa Claus actually looks like this, I'd really like to meet him. Now that would be quite an amazing experience!
Now if Santa Claus actually looks like this, I’d really like to meet him. That would be quite an amazing experience!
Multiple possible Santas! Oh, wait. They all are cloggers, waiting to perform at December Nights. Santa only clogs chimneys.
Multiple possible Santas! Oh, wait. They’re all cloggers, waiting to perform at December Nights. Santa only clogs chimneys.
I might not spot the actual real Santa, but this December Nights is rather fun. These folks are singing their hearts out in front of the big Spreckels Organ Pavilion Christmas tree. When the lights come on at night, Balboa Park becomes a magical wonderland!
I might not spot the actual real Santa, but this December Nights is rather fun. These folks are singing their hearts out in front of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion’s annual Christmas tree. When the lights come on at night, Balboa Park becomes a magical wonderland!
If Santa had a dog, it would probably dress like this. It gets chilly up north.
If Santa had a dog, it would probably dress like this. It gets chilly up north.
Perhaps this is why I haven't positively identified the real Santa Claus. He might be at the beach in San Diego getting some sun.
Perhaps this is why I haven’t positively identified the real Santa Claus. He’s probably kicking back at a San Diego beach getting some sun.
I'll just have to make do with Santa Mouse.
I’ll just have to make do with Santa Mouse.
Wait! I found him! There he is! Santa!
Wait! I found him! There he is! Santa!

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Photos from Christmas on the Prado!

Youthful members of All About Music San Diego prepare to play instrumental music at Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
Youthful members of All About Music San Diego prepare to play instrumental music at 2016 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.

Early this afternoon, before the threatened rain might begin, I headed up to Balboa Park to enjoy a bit of the 3rd Annual Christmas on the Prado. This celebration of Christmas is put on by the San Diego Children’s Coalition and the San Diego Community Christmas Committee; it shouldn’t be confused with December Nights, a more diverse holiday event in Balboa Park which used to be called “Christmas on the Prado”. December Nights will take place next week.

When I arrived, the event was just getting underway and many booths were still being erected. I caught a few early performances and some of the Christmas spirit. Here are a few photos!

The San Diego Community Christmas Center's nativity display at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is viewed by many during Christmas on the Prado.
The San Diego Community Christmas Center’s nativity display at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is viewed by families during Christmas on the Prado.
The nativity display shows scenes from the Bible concerning the birth of Christ.
The nativity display shows scenes from the Bible concerning the birth of Christ.
Shepherds are visited by an angel.
Shepherds are visited by an angel.
Children view a scene depicting the birth of Jesus in a humble manger.
Children view a scene depicting the birth of Jesus in a humble manger.
A shack magically transported from the North Pole provides treats at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during Christmas on the Prado.
A shack magically transported from the North Pole provides treats at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during Christmas on the Prado.
Christmas sweets include cookies!
Christmas sweets include cookies!
A brightly decorated tree and traditional Christmas music inside the House of Ireland at Balboa Park's International Cottages.
A brightly decorated tree and traditional Christmas music inside the House of Ireland at Balboa Park’s International Cottages.
A small but cheerful Christmas tree inside the House of England.
A small but cheerful Christmas tree inside the House of England.
Inside the House of Norway, children make tiny paper Christmas baskets to hang on a tree among ornaments.
Inside the House of Norway, children make tiny paper Christmas baskets to hang on a tree among ornaments.
Adding color to Christmas cookies inside the House of Norway.
Adding color to Christmas cookies inside the House of Norway.
A youth ballet company practices before they take the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
A youth ballet company practices before they take the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
A children's group sings joyful carols and other merry songs during Christmas on the Prado.
A children’s group sings joyful carols and other merry songs during Christmas on the Prado.
Getting a Christmas tree ready where Santa will sit in the evening, after nightfall.
Getting a Christmas tree ready where Santa will sit in the evening, after nightfall.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Residents and businesses Deck the Halls downtown!

Santa and kid enjoy a special Deck the Halls neighborhood block party in downtown San Diego.
Santa and a happy kid enjoy a special Deck the Halls neighborhood block party in downtown San Diego!

I was walking home from the Fifth Avenue trolley station this evening when I stumbled upon downtown San Diego’s fun Deck the Halls holiday block party! I’d forgotten it was taking place today!

Lots of folks were out among bright Christmas lights, greeting one another, tasting food served up by various local eateries, and listening to holiday music provided by the San Diego Symphony. The special event, I learned, was put together by Clean and Safe, which is a service of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

It appeared to me that everyone was having a great time!

It's the Deck the Halls Brass Quintet performing holiday music! Good times were had by local residents and businesses on one block of B Street in San Diego's financial district.
It’s the Deck the Halls Brass Quintet performing holiday music! Good times were had by local residents and businesses on one block of B Street in San Diego’s financial district.
A number of nearby restaurants were serving up yummy treats for all comers. Christmas lights lit up the night.
A number of nearby restaurants were serving up yummy treats for all comers. Christmas lights lit up the night!
These smiling folks told me the event was put together by Clean and Safe, a service of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. Thank you guys!
These smiling folks told me the event was put together by Clean and Safe, a service of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. Thank you guys!

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Read the joyful history of Christmas in San Diego!

Bill "Santa" Swank has written a really great book about the history of Christmas in San Diego!
Bill “Santa” Swank has written a really great book about the history of Christmas in San Diego!

I was privileged today to meet Bill Swank. Perhaps you’ve met him, too. Since 2002, Bill has been the volunteer Santa Claus at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during Balboa Park’s popular December Nights. He’s a friendly good guy who effortlessly spreads cheerfulness and joy.

Bill Swank is probably best known for being a leading expert on baseball and the San Diego Padres. He’s written numerous books about baseball history. His knowledge is so deep, the San Diego Historical Society has called him our city’s top baseball historian.

His most recent book, published earlier this year, is titled Christmas in San Diego. If you love both Christmas and San Diego, I know you’ll treasure this book. It’s loaded with history, local traditions and hundreds of fun, very unique photos. (Five photos from Cool San Diego Sights are in the book! How cool is that?)

Bill “Santa” Swank believes the true meaning of Christmas is found in the Golden Rule. His excellent book also proves another important truth: that human hearts are warmed when we are generous and kind. In the book you’ll see community-spirited Santas through the decades bringing joy to many generations, lifting the spirits of all.

From Christmas Eve way back in 1775, to the present day, Christmas in San Diego covers over two hundred years of local history. You’ll find out how both famous and ordinary San Diegans have celebrated the holiday season, and learn a good deal about many historical places and events. Personally, I love the parts concerning unselfish Santa Claus volunteers who’ve participated in a surprising range of charitable activities. Touching young and old alike, with a twinkle-eyed smile and merry Ho, Ho, Ho!

I was privileged to shake the hand of Santa Claus today. Read Christmas in San Diego, and you will be able to peer into Santa’s heart.

Fun photos of 2015 December Nights in Balboa Park!

Everyone has a great time at the 2015 December Nights celebration in San Diego's glorious Balboa Park!
Everyone has a great time at the 2015 December Nights celebration in San Diego’s glorious Balboa Park!

Saturday was the second day of the December Nights holiday event in Balboa Park. (It’s 2015, and we’re coming to the end of Balboa Park’s centennial year. It has been a real blast!)

I walked around randomly and took a bunch of photos during the afternoon, while it was still light outside. This year December Nights was just as wonderful as ever! At night, the lights came on and the scene was pure magic!

Tens of thousands stream into Balboa Park from across the Cabrillo Bridge. December Nights is one of the largest holiday festivals in the United States.
Tens of thousands stream into Balboa Park from across the Cabrillo Bridge. December Nights is one of the largest holiday festivals in the United States.
This nice lady in an information tent usually works at the Balboa Park Visitors Center.
This nice lady in an information tent usually works at the Balboa Park Visitors Center.
Folks in Santa hats enjoy dancing at the Gator by the Bay stage in the Plaza de Panama.
Folks in Santa hats enjoy dancing at the Gator by the Bay stage in the Plaza de Panama.
Lots of unique Christmas gifts were out on display for purchase throughout Balboa Park during December Nights.
Lots of unique Christmas gifts were out on display for purchase throughout Balboa Park during December Nights.
Of course, you can buy mistletoe from this guy near the Natural History Museum!
Of course, you can buy mistletoe from this guy near the Natural History Museum!
One of many fun images near the Old Globe Theatre that celebrate local author Dr. Seuss' classic book How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
One of many fun images near the Old Globe Theatre that celebrate local author Dr. Seuss’ classic book How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Kids by the Botanical Building paint a huge community canvas during December Nights.
Kids by the Botanical Building paint a huge community canvas during December Nights.
A close-up photo of the colorful holiday-themed work of creative kids!
A close-up photo of colorful holiday-themed artwork painted by creative kids!
Poinsettias of many colors fill the amazing Botanical Building.
Poinsettias of many colors fill the amazing Botanical Building.
Mother duck and ducklings are a bit wary of all the excited humans crowding about the reflecting pool.
Mother duck and ducklings are a bit wary of all the excited humans crowding about the reflecting pool.
One of the Santas in Balboa Park will be stationed here in the Casa del Prado once night falls.
One of the several Santas in Balboa Park will be stationed here at the Casa del Prado once night falls.
Children file onto a stage on the Casa del Prado patio. Joyful dancing could be seen here throughout the day.
Children file onto a stage on the Casa del Prado patio. Joyful dancing could be seen here throughout the day.
Another Santa Claus will be stationed here in the evening near the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
Another Santa Claus will be stationed here in the evening near the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
Some fun holiday decorations on an artist studio in Balboa Park's Spanish Village.
Some fun holiday decorations next to an artist studio in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village.
Christmas presents dangle from a tree in festive Spanish Village during December Nights.
Christmas presents dangle from a tree in festive Spanish Village during December Nights.
Many glittery, colorful Christmas trees could be seen throughout Spanish Village.
Many glittery, colorful Christmas trees could be seen throughout Spanish Village.
A funny Jungle Bells banner near the entrance to the world famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park.
A funny Jungle Bells banner near the entrance to the world famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park.
The one and only light up cotton candy! Just wait until it's dark!
The one and only light up cotton candy! Just wait until it’s dark!
Folks are buying goodies at the cookie shack near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during December Nights.
Folks are buying goodies at the cookie shack near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during December Nights.
Another Santa will be seated at the organ pavilion, welcoming many kids.
Another Santa will be seated in the colonnade at the organ pavilion, welcoming many kids.
In mid-afternoon, the Peninsula Singers community choir was performing on stage beneath the giant Christmas tree.
In mid-afternoon, the Peninsula Singers community choir was performing on stage beneath the giant Christmas tree.
These folks enjoying a December Nights concert are dressed for the season.
These folks enjoying a December Nights concert are dressed for the season.
Deep friend bacon, cheesecake, candy bars, candy and cookies! Yikes! This stand is by the ride-filled fun zone, in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
Deep friend bacon, cheesecake, candy bars, candy and cookies! Yikes! This stand is by the ride-filled fun zone, in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
These guys preparing food are in front of the Japanese Friendship Garden.
These guys preparing food are in front of the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Performers in folk costumes behind the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages stage during December Nights in Balboa Park.
Performers in folk costume wait behind the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages stage during December Nights in Balboa Park.
Traditional costumes, holiday food from diverse nations and cultures, and lots of crafts were found around the International Cottages!
Traditional costumes, holiday food from many nations and cultures, and cheerful crafts were found around the International Cottages!

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Santa Claus parachutes onto an aircraft carrier!

Santa Claus is ready to leap from a helicopter onto the deck of the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum on San Diego Bay!
Santa Claus is ready to leap from a helicopter onto the deck of the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum on San Diego Bay!

Santa has been known to make some pretty grand entrances. But this one takes the cake!

Jolly old Saint Nick paid a visit to San Diego today, and arrived by air as usual. He dropped in by parachute, landing atop an aircraft carrier!

A Toys for Tots toy drive is being held on Navy Pier next to the USS Midway Museum. Bring two new toys and you’ll receive free admission to the very popular museum. The Marines have a huge truck they need to fill up! Santa will be performing a whole bunch of parachute jumps throughout the day. Bring the kids!

To learn more about the Toys for Tots program, and how you can help, please check out my blog post from several days ago.

Look! Here comes Santa Claus! I guess Rudolph and the other reindeer are getting lazy. Or maybe they're just resting up for Christmas.

Look! Here comes Santa Claus! I guess Rudolph and the other reindeer are getting lazy. Or maybe they’re just resting up for Christmas.

Old Saint Nick nimbly descends from the blue sky in order to greet the nice boys and girls of San Diego. Beats using a sooty chimney.
Old Saint Nick nimbly descends from the blue sky in order to greet the nice boys and girls of San Diego. Beats using a sooty chimney.
Santa doesn’t need a tailhook when landing atop a huge aircraft carrier. Just a sturdy parachute!
Santa doesn’t need a tailhook when landing atop a huge aircraft carrier. Just a sturdy parachute!
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and the USS Midway Museum are collecting toys today at Navy Pier. And Santa will be parachuting several more times! Just for fun, I suppose.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and the USS Midway Museum are collecting toys today at Navy Pier. And Santa will be parachuting several more times! Just for fun!
A guy checks out an ejection seat during the Toys for Tots toy drive on Navy Pier. I wonder if Santa has one of those on his sleigh?
A guy checks out an ejection seat during the Toys for Tots toy drive on Navy Pier. I wonder if Santa has one of those on his sleigh?
Marines collect toys to help spread holiday cheer, with downtown San Diego's skyline in the background.
Marines collect toys to help spread holiday cheer, with downtown San Diego’s skyline in the background.
Here's smiling Santa, with Mrs. Claus! Spectacular entrance! They wished me a Merry Christmas! And the same to you! Ho, ho, ho! Stay jolly!
Here’s smiling Santa, with Mrs. Claus! Spectacular entrance! They wished me a Merry Christmas! And the same to you!

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Joyful colors of Christmas at December Nights.

House of England's Victorian gentleman with top hot and monocle!
House of England’s Victorian gentleman with top hot and monocle!

This afternoon I enjoyed several daylight hours at the 2014 December Nights event in Balboa Park! It looks like the Christmas spirit is alive in San Diego!

December Nights, which used to be named Christmas on the Prado, is an annual holiday celebration that attracts around three hundred thousand people over two absolutely amazing days. The best time to experience December Nights is after dark, when Balboa Park from end to end is lit with thousands of lights. The scene is vast and magical. Carolers and choirs seem to be everywhere you turn. There are so many jolly Santas taking pictures with families you might think you’d arrived at the North Pole! The traditional sights, yummy smells, and cheerfully lit colors of Christmas abound.

But, alas, my camera doesn’t cope well with darkness. So here are some sunny pics from a couple hours ago!

Santa, Frosty and joyful San Diegans at December Nights in Balboa Park.
Santa, Frosty and joyful San Diegans at December Nights in Balboa Park.
Presents, ornaments and cacti in Balboa Park's Spanish Village!
Presents, ornaments and cacti in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village!
An artist studio in Spanish Village behind many very colorful Christmas trees.
An artist studio in Spanish Village behind many very colorful Christmas trees.
These handmade blown glass ornaments were out on display.
These handmade blown glass ornaments were out on display.
Artist's message: Let there be Peace on Earth...
Artist’s message: Let there be Peace on Earth…
Is this face painter by the Balboa Park carousel Mrs. Claus or a ladybug.
Is this face painter by the Balboa Park carousel Mrs. Claus or a ladybug?
A smiling gingerbread man greets one and all to Casa del Prado.
A smiling gingerbread man greets one and all to Casa del Prado.
San Diego Floral Association hosted many Christmas trees created by local folk.
San Diego Floral Association hosted many Christmas trees created by local folk.
Sign acknowledges the Balboa Park Centennial, kicking off this weekend!
Sign acknowledges the Balboa Park Centennial, kicking off this weekend!
Lots of vendors everywhere had holiday crafts that would make great gifts.
Lots of vendors everywhere had holiday crafts that would make great gifts.
A table full of unique Christmas stocking stuffers.
A table full of unique Christmas stocking stuffers.
One table had cool model ships! I know what this kid wants for Christmas!
One table had cool model ships! I know what this kid wants for Christmas!
Kids from Colegio Ingles in Tijuana, Mexico perform in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Kids from Colegio Ingles in Tijuana, Mexico perform in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir sings rousing gospel music!
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir sings rousing gospel music!
Manger scene in one of the huts along back of Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Manger scene in one of the huts along back of Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Gingerbread house in organ pavilion sells Christmas treats to the growing crowd.
Gingerbread House in the organ pavilion sells Christmas treats to the slowly growing crowd.
Santa Claus has landed with his little reindeer on a rooftop!
Santa Claus has landed with his little reindeer on a rooftop!
Huge, glorious poinsettia display inside the popular Botanical Building.
Huge, glorious poinsettia display inside the popular Botanical Building.
It's Wendy! No, I don't want a hamburger today. Thank you!
It’s Wendy! No, I don’t want a hamburger today. Maybe tomorrow.  Thank you!
Photos with Santa will take place here and elsewhere once the sun sets.
Photos with Santa will take place here and elsewhere once the sun sets.
Lots of people dressed for the holidays this afternoon at December Nights in San Diego.
Lots of people dressed for the holidays this afternoon at December Nights in San Diego.
These guys were probably informed they were naughty.
These guys were probably informed they were naughty.

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