On a night so chilly that frost crunched like snow beneath our feet, we visited the Lights of Christmas at the Warm Beach Conference Center near our home in Stanwood. Lights spiraled up the trunks of the tree and dangled from their branches. Sweeping arcs of lights edged every path and formed arches welcoming us to the buildings which housed plays, concerts, shops and eating spots. Crowds of people bundled in warm winter clothing swarmed the pathways. Some pushed friends and relatives in wheelchairs or toddlers in strollers. Children danced around firepits where their elders paused to get warm.
We began our evening with a home-grown but quite professional musical production called, fittingly for the Norwegian roots of our community, “Uff Da, It’s Christmas!” Talented kids kept pace with equally talented adults. With five entertainment stages on the grounds, there’s a full program of music and drama including an elegant dinner theater. After the last “Uff Da” died away, we said hello to costumed Rick and Lydia Crouch, the producers and directors, and stepped out into the biting air. We took refuge in one of the meeting rooms-turned-cafes for a bowl of hot soup. Then, trying to resist the aroma of frying doughnuts, we headed out for a quick tour of the displays.
Our first stop was the larger-than-life size nativity scene. An angel suspended from towering fir trees heralded the miracle of Christ’s birth while the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah echoed overhead.
Excited kids came running when the free “train” chugged up to a whistle-stop station to load passengers, then rumbled off on a tour of the grounds.
Enchantment lay in every direction. Children squealed in delight as a frog in green lights leapt, landed, and disappeared among flowers drawn in lights. In another area, dolphins frolicked among lighted sailboats.
There’s too much to absorb in one visit. But the conference center offers overnight lodging for those who’d like to stay longer. Just look on the Internet for information and driving directions. The Lights are open Thursday through Sunday each week in December, but preparation starts in October, when hundreds of volunteers begin assembling displays and installing lights. Another one hundred volunteers work every night to make this top-rated holiday event possible.