Town Crier: Twelve ways to keep holiday spirits alive

MONTCLARION: Dec. 25, 2015

It’s Christmas morn. Here’s hoping Santa dropped by your house last night and didn’t sear his suit on the embers in your fireplace. There is one burning question as we reflect on the joy of the season: How do we keep spirits bright, long after the last chestnut is roasted?

Like the “12 Days of Christmas,” here are a dozen ways to warm the cockles of your heart through early January.

1. Oakland ZooLights: The ultimate in light therapy with countless multicolored lights and animated characters gyrating to the holiday beat. The rides area has a sweet candy cane theme and the Outback Express offers magical views of the twinkling bay. Nightly through Jan. 3.

2. Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round Winter Wonderland: There’s a storybook setting for visitors who journey over the meadow and through the woods. Concessionaires say they’ll keep the holiday decorations up through early January, which means you can grab a cup of hot chocolate and ride the hand-carved giraffe sporting the Santa hat.

3. Montclair Village lights and garland: A gift to the community, Montclair Village hasn’t seen street garland in 20-some years. The decorations will stay up well into January and the strands of white building lights will burn brightly year-round.

4. “Scrooge” at the ACT Theater in San Francisco through Sunday: Could the ghost of Christmas future be beckoning you to this holiday favorite? And what exactly is a humbug?

5. Public space Christmas trees: Pick a hotel, park or plaza and admire the baubles and beads on the tinsel bedecked Tannenbaums. Someone spent hours lovingly dressing the boughs of these fine firs. Efforts like this should not go unnoticed.

6. Snow in the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero: Oh, what fun it is to have a hot toddy in the lounge while snow falls from high above the world’s largest atrium lobby. An added attraction is the ice rink in Justin Herman Plaza — the biggest and best in San Francisco.

7. San Francisco light tour: The City by the Bay is a shining example of how light is art. The Illuminate S.F. Festival of Light runs through Jan. 1 and boasts 27 dramatic light art installations — all free to view and easy to get to by public transportation. See the map at

8. “The Jewelry Box:” Local playwright Brian Copeland puts on a heartwarming solo show that amusingly recounts his childhood search for mom’s gift on the “mean streets” of Oakland. Through Sunday at the San Leandro Main Library, 300 Estudillo Ave.

9. Ice rinks: Sharpen your blades or bring money for rentals. Outdoor ice rinks are open into January in Walnut Creek, downtown San Jose and in San Francisco’s Embarcadero and Union Square.

10. Take a hike: Find holly, mistletoe and other signs of the season in Sunol Regional Wilderness, 1895 Geary Road, Sunol. Naturalist Katie Colbert leads a “Gifts we can’t return” easy 2-mile hike from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call 520-544-3243 for information.

11. Celestial seasons: Better than a moon over Miami — there’s a full moon over the Oakland Estuary and an evening paddle on Saturday. Call 510-893-7833.

12. Free parking: If none of the above triggers tidings of comfort and joy, maybe the lure of free parking will help. Saturday is the last Free Parking Saturday during the holiday season. No fees at meters or kiosks in Oakland. That alone is reason to celebrate.

Reach Ginny Prior at ginny and at www.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s