Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Light (Up the Night) Bright


It seems like there have been endless Christmas events around the Metro-Detroit area since Thanksgiving . . . greenery sales, concerts, parades, tree lightings, you name it. In fact, the number of festivities seems much more widespread than what I'm used to, at least since I've moved to a place where so many cities and towns are pushed up against one another. That said, although it's still less than a week into December, I feel like I'm playing catch-up with all of the weekend celebrations (in particular, I'm bummed that I had to pick my car up from the mechanic during Lansing's Silver Bells in the City and that I missed Starbucks' half-priced Holiday drinks a couple weekends ago). Fortunately, I informed Brad when he got home from work last Friday that we were going to Novi's Light up the Night. I know--I'm an awesome wife.

After debating whether or not we should go to dinner first (we were both starving and I was a little loopy from not eating since my early lunch), we decided to take our chances on there being enough free snacks at the civic center to tide us over for a while. And oh, boy, were there ever.

Inside view of the Novi Civic Center
People lining up to get free rice and beef from bd's Mongolian Grill
Upon entering the Novi Civic Center, we were greeted by about a billion people, each standing elbow-to-elbow and contributing to a scene of mass of confusion. The lines for the free food tables, however, were not too long, so we wiggled our way through a sea of Novi-ans to claim our complimentary chicken wings, cinnamon snacks, and hot chocolate. I know there were several more tables set up with cookies, coffee, and who knows what else, but we had to cut it at some point because we were determined to still go out for dinner. We wolfed down our food, and with full bellies and slightly annoyed reactions to all the kids who were standing on our feet, Brad and I went outside to await the tree lighting.

Santa! He's here! I know him!
We found some good standing spots in front of the stage just as some city officials (or people of similar importance) were giving speeches, awarding nice do-gooders with flowers, and introducing Santa and a group of young people who eventually ended up singing Christmas carols. I probably should have gotten outside earlier so I could figure out exactly who everyone was, but with hundreds of people simultaneously trying to find places to view the show, it probably would have been just as confusing either way.  

[Regardless, I commend you, stage people . . . you congregated nicely and spoke in bold, happy tones. And in return, I hope you can forgive me for not remembering anything you talked about before the tree lit up.]

3, 2, 1 . . . Oooh! Ahhh.
While it wasn't exactly the one from Rockefeller Center, the tree was beautiful all the same. Covered in soft, purple lights and abbreviated with leftover snow from earlier in the week, It was simple and serene. Brad and I snapped some photos of each other, then went off to explore the civic center campus just as several families descended on the tree to take pictures of their kids.

Ice sculpting! Can you tell what it is?

Hint: it's a reindeer.
This guy twisted balloon animals like it was a race. I wish I had gotten a picture of the little girl who ended up with this hat. It was about as tall as she was, and she couldn't move without taking out an eye or a nose (mine included).

"Light up the Night" was filled with all sorts of entertainment, from ice sculptures and balloon animals to Santa meet-and-greets and ballet dancers. We also tried our hand at shopping the indoor craft show, but the combination of gift hunters and parents assembling to watch their daughters dance as swans made for very little breathing room. We stayed for one musical number and glanced at a few tables' worth of mittens and paper roses, then once again made a stealthy exit. Like I've said on several occasions, I'm not much for cold weather, but the night was clear and beautiful and I didn't mind strolling around to look at all the night time glitz.

Light-up wands, glow sticks, you name it-- reminiscent of overpriced Disney World toys.
Who didn't want one (or ten) of these when they were a kid?

      
 And this--a tractor trailer/crane thing dressed to the nines for a festive occasion!


Top o' th'evenin' to ya, sir.
The Novi Public Library was next door to the civic center and housed more "Light up the Night" activities, but since Clifford, the Big Red Dog was greeting people at the door and we had dinner plans, we figured the face painting and storytelling were best left to the kids. Before we went back to the car, however, I remembered a few more interesting sets of lights I had seen on the drive in. So, I grabbed the camera and pulled Brad over in the direction of the library to catch a few, last-minute pictures.


What caught my eye were several Lite Brite-style ad boards for local businesses, each lining the sidewalk to draw in visitors. Festive as they were, the boards reminded me of the 2007 controversy with Turner Broadcasting, where promotional light boards were distributed around Boston to promote upcoming episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Of course, the boards in front of the Novi Public Library were much more obvious in their sponsorships and promotional attempts; it was ATHF's less-than-cordial cartoon characters that made people think there were bombs littering the city.

Not-so-classy photo alert:
A board from the 2007 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Campaign
(I am happy to report that this was not present at Light up the Night in Novi).
[Source]

After photos, it was time for dinner, so we left to finish the evening with food and a movie in Farmington. Great way to end a December evening, but I kind of wish I hadn't chowed down on so much free food beforehand. (Only kind of, though . . . it's really difficult to pass up free chicken wings).

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