KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Ross: Plenty of holiday joy around Seattle even without the Hallmark Channel

Dec 18, 2023, 7:22 AM | Updated: 7:32 am

Image: People attend the lighting of the holiday tree at Seattle's Westlake Center on Friday, Nov. ...

People attend the lighting of the holiday tree at Seattle's Westlake Center on Friday, Nov. 24. 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Gee & Ursula Facebook page)

(Photo courtesy of the Gee & Ursula Facebook page)

We had a particularly Christmasy weekend thanks to the many people who are energized by the Holiday Spirit.

First a shout-out to Ballard. We went to dinner with friends last Friday, and I don’t know if it’s a neighborhood tradition there or just that people have accumulated too many lights over the years, but the sheer density of the light displays in Ballard seemed over the top. And most spectacular one we saw was The Christmas Railroad on 6th Ave NW … ask a local for the exact location – but thematically-speaking it’s at the intersection of Grand Central Station, the North Pole, and the Las Vegas Strip.

There’s a fully-functioning animated locomotive that seemed to stretch for most of the block, and an entire Christmas village that might have been built by Will Ferrell. I don’t know if it’s bright enough to be seen from Space but you can probably see the glow at least from the Ballard Bridge.

Anyway– a gold medal for the industrious elves who put that together.

We drove by that display after having dinner at Ristorante Piccolinos in Ballard – and they also had decked the halls with all manner of Christmas swag, but even better, accordion virtuoso Bonnie Birch was on duty – playing Italian songs. And given that my dining companion happens to be a world class tenor, guess what happened – yes! an uncontrolled outbreak of Italian opera.

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Then Saturday we went to a medieval-style winter revels celebration in Shoreline with a bonfire and costumed storytellers and hot apple cider, and live guitar music, then on Sunday after church at St James we walked downtown with granddaughter number two and lined up for the Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont Olympic hotel. Simple concept – three-room hotel suite, cover the walls with classy ornaments and lights, and then stuff it with giant teddy bears… even the bathroom…

And at the center, a big bed where parents could take unbrearably cute pictures of their kids surrounded by bears, and not only did it not cost anything – they handed us a coupon good for a free cookie at the coffee shop on 4th Avenue where of course we bought coffee – and we even got the code to the restroom.

Will we have a White Christmas? Check out this week’s Western Washington weather

So a big thank you to the homeowners and businesses & religious organizations creating in-person experiences to make the holidays come alive … nothing against the Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie marathon but getting out once in a while can’t hurt.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Plenty of holiday joy around Seattle even without the Hallmark Channel