The Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights kicked off with a magnificent firework display to the delight of tens of thousands of Southern Californians. In these challenging economic times, Owner Duane Roberts along with his wife, Kelly Roberts, and step daughter, Casey Reinhardt, are proud to call this spectacular light show their gift to the community.
The story of the Festival of Lights began in the 1980s as The Mission Inn fell into disrepair, eventually to be closed entirely. To the rescue came successful businessman Duane Roberts who spent countless millions restoring The Mission Inn to the grandeur that former owner Frank Miller from the turn of the century had envisioned, creating a hotel that hosted many presidents, dignitaries and otherwise notable people. When others told Duane Roberts that he was too big of a dreamer, he told them tough luck. He put his money where his mouth was and brought the 1876 hotel to the glory you see today on his own dime.
His motivation, you might be wondering, has nothing to do with profit. Rather, Duane views the historic landmark as a public trust, with every penny reinvested back into the hotel. “The lady needs a lot of attention,” Duane Roberts said in an interview with ThingsToDoInlandEmpire.com, referring to the extensive renovations and repairs that are regularly needed at the historic hotel.
“What’s good for The Mission Inn is good for Riverside,” Duane remarked. It is this spirit of community that allowed Mr. Roberts to smile with pride as he commented that 600 people are grateful to call this living landmark their employer, all of who received a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Duane’s proudest contribution to the Riverside community is the annual Festival of Lights. It is the smiles on the faces of children and adults alike that make them the happiest, providing an experience that was created by some of the same people behind Disneyland’s light shows for families in the Inland Empire. With 3.6 million lights, The Mission Inn sees their monthly electric bill goes up by $50,000, all in the name of making Riverside a better place.
To see this amazing creation, drop by The Mission Inn nightly until early January. For more information, check out www.festivaloflightsca.com.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa has announce dates for the annual Festival of Lights. The event will launch the day after Thanksgiving, at sundown with a celebratory lighting ceremony with a full fireworks display, and continue through the second Sunday in January.
The event will also include live entertainment, seasonal touches throughout, including horse-drawn carriage rides, freshly fallen snow and special appearances by Santa Claus and his reindeer.
A gift to the community from the owners of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Duane and Kelly Roberts, Festival of Lights hosts one of the largest collections of lights in the nation.
Festival of Lights, by the numbers:
· 3.6 million+ brilliant lights
· 250,000+ Festival of Lights guests in 2010
· Over 400 animated figures, including angels, elves and carolers
· 19 years in the running
· 10 weeks of round-the-clock preparations, orchestrated by a crew of 20
Both local residents and out of town travelers can experience the spectacular Southern California holiday tradition. In addition to the external light display, throughout the season The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa features an elaborately decorated Christmas tree (changing fully every two weeks during the holiday season), appearances by Santa Claus and Dickensian Carolers singing cheerful holiday tunes, authentic horse-drawn carriages, guest appearances by live reindeer, and hundreds of characters dressed in 17th Century costumes to entertain crowds and evoke the spirit of the season.
Viewing the lights and festivities are just one part of holidays at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. Guests may book unique holiday experiences for every budget.
To make a day trip out of the event, you can dine at Inland Southern California’s only AAA Four-Diamond restaurant, Duane’s Prime Steaks & Seafood Restaurant, sipping a glass at wine bar 54° at Duane’s, sneaking in some holiday shopping at the incredibly well-curated Kelly’s Boutique, or taking in High Tea at the Presidential Promenade (from 2p – 4p daily).
The City of Riverside has adopted The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa’s popular Festival of Lights event as a citywide initiative with a vision of a Dickensian winter extravaganza. Lights and decorations will adorn buildings throughout the city and an outdoor ice-skating rink will be built in the main street pedestrian mall near The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.
For further information on holiday season stays at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, please visit www.missioninn.com, or call 1.800.843.7755. For information on the Festival of Lights, please visit www.festivaloflightsca.com.