A different display: Columbia Gorge Hotel hangs a new, musical, set of lights

Call it a holiday rarity: a Christmas tradition that’s actually delayed a week or so.

The lighting display will return to Columbia Gorge Hotel. It normally gets illuminated with a public flourish, at Thanksgiving, but this year a new system goes on line in about a week.

Also, with less fanfare; as in no illumination event.

But there will be more music.

The display will be smaller, but in some ways more festive, according to Hotel Manager Paul Robinson.

Sometime next week, hotel crews will begin stringing a new system of computerized lights, visible on the north side of the hotel, with 12,000 color combinations, connected to music.

Yes, the south side will also get its due, where the hotel’s famed lighting display could always been seen from Westcliff Drive. The south-side display will be static, and smaller; yet more artfully arrayed, according to Robinson.

Robinson said the new light show will go up next week and get turned on sometime around Dec. 7.

All this amounts to a change in how the hotel inaugurates the holiday season: There was no formal “illumination” event at Thanksgiving, as in past years.

The new LED system used last year was “a bit bright,” Robinson said.

“We heard from some locals that it was maybe we overdid it,” Robinson said. “We talked to some local artists about how to do some smaller displays, using the trees and other structures to better effect,” he said.

“We listened to what people said and are taking a different approach,” Robinson said.

The new lighting décor is connected to the FM radio system in each room, so guests can tune in.

Once installed, the lights and music can also be enjoyed in the hotel dining room and bar.

In 2011 the hotel replaced its old set of 250,000 lights, which were turned on from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, with a set of brighter, more energy-efficient LED lights. The old incandescent lights cost $2,000 a month to the hotel electrical bill.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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