There are times when Christmas traditions from your childhood seem bigger, brighter, and more special than those of your adulthood. This year, when I visited Bay City’s River of Lights display, I may have had such expectations. However, that is no excuse for half-lit light displays, no route markings, and even a half-lit sign. Other areas of Bay City and the surrounding area greatly surpassed the official display.
Truth be told, those seeking great Christmas lights would have been better off traveling to the Bay City suburb of Essexville this past holiday season or the South End of Bay City. In Essexville, a homeowner synched his lights with Christmas music, included an outdoor PowerPoint slide show, and broadcasted the music for the lights on an FM radio station that could be listened to several feet in front of his home. The presentation, a sight to see, lasted 30 minutes.
In the South End, there weren’t creative displays similar to the house described above, but the quantity of lights made up for it. You simply couldn’t find a similar quantity of decorated homes in any other area of Bay City. Those who are familiar with this area of Bay City know that St. Stan’s Church is a landmark. During the Christmas season, it didn’t disappoint. The simple lights surrounding the Church were beautiful, but if you took a minute to truly drive around the Parish grounds, you were treated with a beautiful lit life-size nativity scene. It was such displays that truly put me in the Christmas spirit this year.
With a little work, maintenance, and organization, the Bay City River of Lights, along with the Santa House, could have been just as noteworthy. This year, it was billed to be bigger and better than it had been in recent years. If this were the case, than I would have hated to see just how small past years’ exhibits were.
Maybe I’m being too harsh here. My boyfriend and I drove through the exhibit on a rainy weeknight. However, in the run up to the holiday season, the River of Lights display was billed to be open every evening after 6 P.M., along with the Santa House. It was true that extended hours were set during the weekends, but it doesn’t explain just how dead the area was when we visited. There was no one there to take a donation or even other cars driving through the exhibit. I can only hope that others hoping to get a glimpse of the display weren’t as disappointed.
When I visited the River of Lights Display with my Grandma several years ago, the displays were well-maintained, there were lots of people driving through, and there were people there to greet us at the gate. The displays were unique and seemed to go on forever. Maybe my disappoint this year was simply due to the fact that it didn’t live up to my memory. However, for the sake of Bay City, I hope to see a bigger and better River of Lights next year.