Christmas in the Park
One side of the plaza is filled with holiday-themed displays like Santa's Workshop or the North Pole Train Station or a gingerbread house or Santa's reindeer barn or penguins or a Swiss clock maker or a bakery (okay, those last two weren't really holiday-themed, but they are so darn cute, they look like they've come straight out of Toyland; besides, you can make anything holiday-themed by decorating it with garland and mistletoe and red-and-white bunting). Most of the displays have moving animatronic figures, and there's a holiday train (carying striped peppermint canes instead of wooden logs!) that goes around the whole thing. It was a bit like going thru the It's A Small World ride at Disneyland, except you have to walk instead of ride a boat. All the displays are badly in need of a fresh coat of paint, but the boys didn't seem to notice the chips in the elves' noses or the dusty props (okay, they did notice that the choirboys in the church display had messy, scraggly hair).
The other side of the plaza is filled with pine trees that have been decorated by various civic groups, youth groups, schools and organizations (i.e. girl scout troops, church groups, moms clubs, bands, etc..), as well as local businesses and company sponsors.
Most were decorated with the usual holiday ornaments and tinsel, although some of the trees were themed to the organization (like a tree with plush puppies, decorated by an animal shelter, or a tree with feathers, decorated by a Native American organization).
Here's one of my favorite non-traditional holiday trees, depicting my favorite holiday, Halloween! 3Po insisted on having his photo taken beside the tree, since he was wearing his green skull hoodie that day.
The trees and displays are really charming, and I can't think of a nicer way to get into the holiday spirit and get inspired to decorate your own home. Hmm... if only I had posted this before December 25! The boys really loved looking at everything (it took us about 2 hours to get through the whole thing, and once you're done there are also some carnival rides and an ice skating rink nearby, so you can really make a whole afternoon out of it), and this is one tradition we're looking forward to next year.