One never knows what to expect when visiting a new place to experience their Christmas lights.
Such was the case this past weekend. Wifey and I decided to take an overnight trip to Canton, MS which hosts a "City of Lights" celebration for the holidays.
I had done a search on the Internet for Mississippi locations offering Christmas festivities and then headed out on the 200-mile one-way trip and I was hoping that it would be an unusual experience.
We arrived early in the afternoon and took a walk about the courthouse square which was lined by buildings dating back to the 1800s. Unlike some cities that haven't been able to keep up with the changing times, the area, although having a few vacant spots, was vibrant and alive.
We could see figurative displays and trees that were to come alive with thousands of lights once the sun went down.
A trip around the square and we then headed to our accommodations with plans to return about 5 p.m. after resting from the five-hour trip.
Our return included experiencing bumper-to-bumper traffic heading into downtown. Lights outlined the buildings along the main thoroughfares adding to the festivities.
And then the courthouse square came into view and it was a delight to behold.
We couldn't find a place to park on the square so settled for a spot about a block away.
Our trip around the inside of the square brought on a feeling joy.
Hundreds of children, parents and grandparents made their way around the square enjoying the sights and sounds of the holidays.
There was a carousel and other rides for the little ones. Rides were also offered on horse-drawn buggies, a small ''train'' and trolleys, all which circled the town square.
As we began to leave the area for the night, I just felt like I could sit on a park bench in the square for hours on end just enjoying what Canton had to offer.
Gatlinburg, TN knows how to put on a Christmas parade.
There was something for everyone -- marching bands, floats, dancers, muscle cars, mini cars, balloon figures and of course even Santa Claus.
And there was even the sheriff of Hazard County chasing the Duke brothers down the main thoroughfare.
But there was one thing not making an appearance -- snow.
The parade was held the night of Dec. 7, and as anticipated there were thousands lining the route along the Parkway with the parade starting around 7:30 p.m. and lasting almost two hours.
The temperatures weren't as we had expected. The cold hovered in the high 40s for most of the parade which was fairly comfortable.
This was the first time we had visited for the holiday event and thoroughly enjoyed the festivities. Earlier in the afternoon, I traveled down the main thoroughfare and saw an interesting sight.
It was interesting to someone who hadn't seen the parade before. Along the sidewalks adjacent to the main thoroughfare, on both sides of the street, people had already staked out their spot for the parade by placing their folded up chairs end to end from one end of the parade route to the other.
Click to see very, very lighted car
During the parade there was the typical noises provided by blasts from the firetrucks and sirens from police cars.
Musicians rode the floats, marching bands blared out Christmas songs and lights of all colors were strung along the floats and even the cars in the parade.
Following the parade, it was an easy walk back to our hotel just a block away. An hour or so later I looked out the window and saw that cars were bumper to bumper trying to get out of the city.
About the only great architect I know of is Frank Lloyd Wright.
I've read articles about his work over the years and the only structure that he created that I can remember is Fallingwater. It is a dwelling perched on a hill with a waterfall coming off of it.
During our West Coast visit in October, there was a newspaper article my wife read that indicated the residents of Marin County (north end of the Golden Gate Bridge) were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of their civic center which was his last commission.
Well, wifey wanted to take a drive-by look. She figured I wasn't that interested and so she didn't want to make it too difficult for me.
We decided to visit the facility after spending a night in Sausalito. We had to backtrack a bit to San Rafael. We had gotten a glimpse of the blue-roofed facility off into the distance as we were going down Highway 101. The blue roof reminded me of the hundreds of blue tarps used to protect the roofs of homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina and other storms on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Wright was 90 when commissioned and he died before construction. The civic center work began in 1960 followed by the Hall of Justice, the Veterans Memorial Auditorium and the Exhibit Hall.
There was a lot of controversy about the facility concerning cost, location, color and Wrights' "socialist" design philosophy.
We drove around and through the archways a number of times with wifey shooting a number of pictures. And then she was ready to go, apparently feeling that she had taken enough of my time on this project.
But I ended up insisting that we at least park and go into a section of the facility.
And I am glad we did.
If I had been a resident back then, I probably would have been against its construction since I err on the side of economy. I'm cheap.
But I am glad that the leaders forged on to see the facility completed as Wright had envisioned.
We went up to the library and walked around the halls on the south end of the massive structure which are arranged around an open atria which allows natural light into the area.
There was a pleasant and comforting feeling about the surroundings.