Yesterday my family went to December Nights. At the heart of San Diego’s tourist industry stands Balboa Park. It’s a very cool complex of museums, gardens, and of course the San Diego Zoo. Like residents of most tourist destinations, very few San Diego residents regularly go to the tourist industries epicenter. I don’t know what that is, but it’s the same reason why I lived in Chicago for 8 years but have never been to the top of the Sears Tower.
Once per year, the residents of San Diego go to Balboa Park for a community festival called December Nights. As Midwesterners, we laugh at the Santa Claus’s and hot chocolate stands among the palm trees… but for San Diego folks this is about as cold as it’ll get and they are feeling the Christmas spirit.
It’s an event filled with wonderful food stands, choirs and dance troupes, and vendors peddling their art.
It’s also filled with SoCal flavor. Yuppies bring their foo foo dogs. Families bring their kids and grandparents. The singles scene crowds into the 21+ booze area. Political nut cases try to get you to sign their ballot petition. Kids sell candy, some for legit causes some for illegitimate causes. Someone in the parking lot was likely selling weed. Vendors walk around trying to sell you stuff that you don’t want. (But at least they have nice candy canes!) It’s really the same crowd you’ll see at the beach, baseball games, or any other street market in the city.
Perhaps the most fun thing about living in a tourist destination is being a local who gets to play when all the tourists go home?