A Truly Unique Set of Holiday Lights… The North Coast Series

Grey whale featured in Holiday Lights display at Shore Acres State Park in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Not your parents’ (or mine) display of holiday lights! This grey whale rising out of the ocean had to be at least 30 feet long. Over 10,000 lights provided a back drop.

A giant grey whale rose out of the water to a backdrop of ten thousand lights. It wasn’t quite what I had expected when Peggy and I drove over to Coos Bay, Oregon to check out the Holiday Lights display at the Shore Acres State Park. I thought we’d probably see sheep, cows, donkeys and a baby J or two. There might even be deer. They’ve become a common fixture on people’s lawns at Christmas. But frogs leaping into ponds, pelicans flying across the sky, a parade featuring an earthworm, turtle, grasshopper and snail— no way! And these were just a few of the sky, sea and land creatures on display, all created out of holiday lights.

This green fellow was part of a parade that included a worm, two turtles, and a snail, that was going the wrong way, slowly, I assume.

This green fellow was part of a parade that included a worm, two turtles, and a snail, that was going the wrong way, slowly, I assume.

This had to be one happy lady bug working three flowers at once. Aphids beware!

This had to be one happy lady bug working three flowers at once. Aphids beware!

There was a butterfly...

There was a butterfly…

Dragonfly at Shore Acres Park.

A dragonfly…

Holiday frogs at Oregon's Shore Acres State Park.

And frogs.

Seals dive int the water at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Seals leaped into the water. They actually moved and made a splash. As did frogs, and whales.

Pelicans at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Pelicans flew across the sky.

Pelican at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A close up.

Crab and octopus at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

There was a crab and an octopus…

Flowers at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

And beautiful flowers…

More flowers at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

More.

Animals look over fence at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A porcupine, raccoon, deer and rabbit peeked over the parks fence to check out the display.

It wasn’t all about the wildlife you normally find on the Oregon coast, however. Some 320,000 thousand lights decorated the hundreds of shrubs that turn Shore Acres into a floral delight during the spring, summer and fall. There were lots of Christmas trees. A choral group sang traditional carols. The historic garden house on the site reminded me of fantasy gingerbread homes. And Santa was there! So what if he happened to be taking a bubble bath with a tiger and a moose. Fortunately, he was wearing his long johns. Old men with round bellies that shake like bowls full of jelly shouldn’t be seen in public with their clothes off.

Holiday lights at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

A small pond at Shore Acres reflected some of the 320,000 lights.

Green lit arbor and Peggy Mekemson at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

Peggy was turned green by an arbor while the dragonfly hovered above her head.

Gingerbread house at Oregon's Shore Acres' State Park Holiday of Lights display.

The historic garden house looked like a gingerbread house.

Another view of the house. A pelican, instead of a stork, hangs out on the chimney.

Another view of the house. A pelican, instead of a stork, hangs out on the chimney.

The Shore Acres Holiday Lights display is a tradition that goes back to 1987 when Friends of Shore Acres decided to ‘string a few lights’ for the holiday season. It’s been growing ever since, both in number of lights and number of people who visit. This year, the visitors should top 50,000. Volunteers do all of the work. Lights are donated.

Shore Acres Botanical Garden

During the spring, summer, and fall, Shore Acres turns into a beautiful botanical garden, reminiscent of English gardens. This is the ‘Gingerbread house.’ All of the plants were covered in lights for the holidays. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Shore Acres Botanical Garden, Coos Bay, Oregon

Rhododendrons at Shore Acres State Park. Two of thousands of beautiful flowers.

Peggy and I discovered Shore Acres two years ago when we were staying at Sunset Bay State Park, which is located a mile down the road. The flower garden reminded us of England. As soon as I saw a newspaper article about its Holiday Light display, I knew we had to return. Peggy lives for holidays. Since we were heading back East for Christmas, she wouldn’t have the opportunity to break out her seven large boxes of decorations and turn our house in to a museum of Christmases past, present and future. I figured the lights provide a substitute. They did.

With Santa, Peggy and I would like to wish each of you a joyous Holiday and a very Happy New Year.

With Santa and friends, we wish each of you and your families a Joyous Holiday and a very Happy New Year. —Curt and Peggy

NEXT BLOGS: I jumped ahead in our recent North Coast travels to include the Shore Acres display for Christmas. My next three posts will serve as a wrap up for 2016 featuring some of our favorite photos from the year. Twelve of them we used in our annual family calendar. In January, I will return to our drive up Highway 101 to be followed by our visit to Sunset Bay State Park in Coos Bay, which, in its own way, is as special as Shore Acres.

34 comments on “A Truly Unique Set of Holiday Lights… The North Coast Series

  1. Wish we could be there. I have had a tradition of looking at Christmas lights since I was a child and will go out again this evening. Planet Monkman here is great but they are in hiatus this year after a move, and there is nothing like you have shown. Thanks.

    • Thought I answered this, Raile, but I’ve been a bit distracted by grandkids. Anyway, Peggy loves Christmas lights so I get to see lots of them. 🙂 This was the most unique set I’ve seen. –Curt

  2. They are gorgeous but the more impressive because they’re created by non professionals (perhaps they are after all these years) from donated lights! Happy Christmas to you bot and all the family.

  3. This must be one of the most impressive on the West coast. I know of three great holiday light shows in the USA. I love how Fresno, CA has embraced its Christmas Tree Lane tradition, with two only-pedestrian nights where residents welcome visitors with hot cocoa and cider in their driveways and sidewalks. People can drive through the neighborhood for the whole month of December. In Maine, the Botanical Gardens of Boothbay turn also gittlery and shimmery for the holiday seasons. Quite extraordinary. Two years ago I visited Saint Augustine, FL and it is also quite something at this time of year.
    Hope your Christmas was as gorgeous as these lights, Curt.

  4. This is a little disconcerting to me. When I go to see a Christmas light show, I expect the usual Christmas symbols and themes. Sometimes they throw in lights that outline a bear or butterfly and I can only wonder — why?

  5. What an amazing wonderful display, and good to see some variations on the usual reindeer/Santa/lambs themes. In my role as killjoy, though, I must point out a shocking news item a few days ago. The annual Christmas light displays in New York use more electricity than the entire annual use of some countries e.g. Ethiopia. A quick internet search shows that they have just switched to LEDs in NY – better, but we’ve got to think about the environment now.

    • It was all LEDs, Hilary, for what that’s worth. Las Vegas whose use of electricity for lights now claims that all of its electricity is naturally powered. Maybe we can do it… –Curt

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