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Newport Dunes lagoon glows with a floating holiday display through Jan. 1

Kids pose for photo in front of the floating trees on the water during the Lighting of the Bay holiday celebration.
Kids pose for photo in front of the floating trees on the water during opening night of the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina celebration to mark the 32nd annual Lighting of the Bay.
(Susan Hoffman)
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The holidays at Newport Dunes Resort & Marina are back in full swing this year with Santa himself flipping the light switch on the tree for the season’s opening night celebration held Friday in honor of the 32nd annual Lighting of the Bay.

While the illuminated floating trees and scenes have continued the last two years, this is the first year since the pandemic that the opening night celebration has been held.

According to Newport Dunes general manager Phil Ravenna, the resort welcomed roughly 950 adults and kids, who gathered on the beach to take in the festivities.

The Kitchen family from Las Vegas shares a visit with Santa at the tree-lighting celebration.
The Kitchen family from Las Vegas shares a visit with Santa during the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina tree-lighting celebration Nov. 25.
(Susan Hoffman)

“The activities included photos with Santa, performances by OC Song & Dance, Southern California Brass Consortium, arts and crafts, stocking decorating, a photo booth and food and beverages for purchase,” said Ravenna. “This year the stage is on the beach with a movie screen showing ‘Elf’ at the end of the event.”

The Lighting of the Bay continues through Jan. 1, with the illumination of 58 LED holiday trees and scenes floating on barges in the water each night beginning at dusk.

Kids decorate Christmas stockings during the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina holiday celebration.
Kids decorate Christmas stockings during the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina holiday celebration marking the 32nd annual Lighting of the Bay.
(Susan Hoffman)

Ravenna explained that the trees are constructed out of metal tubing and cable for stringing the lights and range in size from 10 feet to 55 feet tall. Each sits atop a wooden base, barge-type floating device connected to controls that create a magical dance-like movement and give the holiday scenes a free-floating appearance.

“It’s wonderful,” said Las Vegas resident Melissa Kitchen, who was vacationing in Newport Beach with her family for the holiday. “Much more than we expected.”

Hunter Heling fist bumps the OC Song & Dance group.
Three-year-old Hunter Heling fist bumps the OC Song & Dance group during the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina opening night tree-lighting celebration on Friday, Nov. 25.
(Susan Hoffman)

When 3-year-old Hunter Heling from San Bernardino saw the OC Song & Dance group perform he couldn’t wait to meet them and tell them what great job they did. He said, “They are just like the cutest cowboys and cowgirls I ever saw.”

Susan Hoffman is a contributor to Times Community News.

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