Ashlynn Portillo, 16, of Fontana, watched in amazement as millions of lights came to life at the Mission Inn hotel and spa and a crescendo of crackling fireworks lit the sky.
"I love the lights," said Portillo. "When they light up, it's all this other feeling, it's not like you're turning on the lights on your Christmas tree."
Portillo and her companion at night, Maria Sandoval's family friend, 42, were among the approximately 60,000 people who filled the space outside of Mission Inn in downtown Riverside on Friday, November 23, as they went on, both with lights and an R & B concert The artist Robin Thicke for the annual change in the ceremony. The ceremony marked the beginning of the 26th season of the Festival of Lights.
Portillo said she was excited to see Thicke perform and that she thought her music was good. Sandoval was also excited.
"It's hot," said Sandoval, with a laugh.
Hundreds of people were near the concert area near the corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Orange Street, with cell phones in hand, while Thicke performed several songs.
With a button-down shirt of dark colors and baggy pants, Thicke danced around the stage with his microphone in his hand and played a series of songs that included "Give It 2 U", "Lost Without U" and a version of the version of Frank Sinatra. of "Jingle Bells". It ended with its most notable success, "Blurred Lines".
For some, the entertainment a little more adult was not worth staying there. Such was the case of Vince Tannahill, 41, and his wife Jina, 37, of Wildomar, who decided to leave with their two daughters before the concert began.
"We are mainly here just to see the lights of the children," said Vince Tannahill.
The screen included hundreds of animatronic figures, including Christmas carols, elves and angels, as well as millions of lights. This year, there were even more highlights, with displays at Mission Inn Avenue and even some of the attractions for children.
The first night of the festival not only offered guests the opportunity to enjoy a light show and concert, but also the opportunity to enjoy shopping, sightseeing and entertainment at the Main Street Pedestrian Mall.
Guests can take carousel rides, ferris wheel or miniature train without rails.
On the food front, guests can visit the Gingerbread Shop festival concession for a long time, or enjoy one of the other popular offerings such as churros, caramel apples and corn.
Victor Ortiz, 32, and his wife Erica, 33, came to the festival from Anaheim for the third consecutive time this year. However, this was the first time they visited their 14-month-old son, Victor Jr.
Ortiz said his family spent most of the day buying and eating. They had visited a multistory antique store before taking Chinese food and then a funnel cake.
Ortiz said he was excited to have his son with him this time, "just to know how wonderful it is to be here during this time of year."
Although thousands of people filled the space outside the hotel, sometimes making movement difficult, Ortiz said the crowd did not bother him at all. In fact, he said, he enjoyed it.
"It should be like this every day," he said.
Officer Ryan Railsback said there had been a couple of calls for medical assistance during the ceremony, but that there had been no serious incident at 7:30 p.m.
The Festival of Lights will continue every day until January 6, offering guests the opportunity to see the lights and explore the shops and restaurants of the city center.
Festival of lights
When: Daily until January 6. Opening hours vary.
Where: Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, 3649 Mission Inn Ave., and the adjoining pedestrian mall, Riverside.