THE OCEAN IN AUTUMN: The pretty Pacific, our vast neighbor next door, that fluid world of sharks and seahorses and those fishes with those light thingamabobs on their heads -- er, anglerfish -- is often sold, on land, as being a place solely devoted to spring and summertime play, at least where human beings are concerned. You know the t-shirts and the postcards and the commercials, the ones that depict laughing suntan-lotion'd people on surfboards, the ones that suggest it is July, sunny, and a hundred degrees. But SoCalers love their big blue neighbor in the autumn and winter, too, of course. Things start to chill out, temperature-wise, usually, so we're not as likely to be doing the stuff the brochures say we should do, but we make the most of our ocean's beauty and, at the very same time, holiday lights. Look to the impressive number of boat parades that truck by our shores in December, yachts and skiffs all done up in bulbs and bows. And look to the ever-popular Newport Dunes happening, The Lighting of the Bay. Like some of the other big flip-the-switch ceremonies around the state, in places like Riverside and Yountville, The Lighting of the Bay happens on Thanksgiving Friday, the day after Turkey Day. The timing is nice, for locals who have out-of-towners still about, out-of-towners longing to get out of the house. (Well, as are the hosts, too, of course.)
GLITTER WATER: And The Lighting of the Bay, which features over 50 Christmas trees that reflect upon the water, is a fine way to show those out-of-towners that our ocean has a place in our play come the holidays, and not just summer. There are three days of celebration for the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort, starting on the 27th, so check the whole schedule. But if you want to see Santa, and maybe pick out your own tree for home at the tree farm, and enjoy local choir and dance troupes perform, be there on Nov. 27. A boutique craft fair, a puppet show, and more merry doings fill out the remainder of Thanksgiving Weekend. But if all you want to do is admire lights glittering against the Pacific's surface after dark, that's a-ok, too. We love to play around the Pacific even during those few weeks of the year we need a scarf, and this 25-year-old tradition, and the light-up boat parades, show this is so. But are the sparkly trees at Newport Dunes brighter in wattage than an anglerfish's headlamp? Debate that with your Thanksgiving visitors as you drive to the celebratory lighting.