Despite Hard Times, “Joy” of Holidays Continues

Mission Valley hotel continues a "light"-hearted tradition

Amid the lay-offs, cut-backs and shut-downs, San Diegans will be happy to know that one holiday tradition is recession-proof. And you can see it yourself, every night, in Mission Valley and Hillcrest.

For the 19th year in a row, the Hilton Hotel on Camino del Rio South is lighting up the windows on selected rooms to show the word "JOY" in huge letters. General Manager Gordon Luster says his company, like others, is cutting back due to the recession. Luster says he had a brief discussion with his staff about the cost of the extra lighting, and the possibility of doing without  the hotel's season display, but never seriously considered pulling the plug.

"If people get pleasure out of it, you know (Interstate 8 in Mission Valley) at 5 o'clock, 6 o'clock every night out there is pretty much backed up here. So instead of honking on the horn (drivers) maybe just look up and smile," Luster says.

It takes the lights in 85 rooms to form the letters "JOY" in the hotel's facade. So this year, as in the past, those 85 rooms must remain vacant, because the lights are on all night long. The Hilton Mission Valley will display the  word "JOY" for 12 nights this holiday season, from December 13 to 25. And for the first time, the hotel is using energy-saving fluorescent bulbs in all its rooms. Luster says he was concerned that the fluorescent bulbs would not be bright enough to light up the "JOY" but says the alternative lighting is working just fine.

Owners of the Fifth Avenue Financial Center building in Hillcrest are also dressing up their building with its traditional holiday lights, despite these hard economic times.

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