Friday, December 20, 2013
Mission Inn, Riverside, CA
The Mission Inn began as a 12-room adobe boarding house that was built by Christopher Columbus Miller on land that was deeded him by the city as payment for his services as a civil engineer. At the time it was known as Glenwood Cottage. Mission Inn began its evolution under the ownership of Frank Miller, a voracious collector who has forever defied accurate description. Following family tours abroad, Miller incorporated his extensive acquisitions into both the Inn's decor and its structure. From the home's first addition, the Mission Wing, grew the Cloister Wing and Music Room, the Spanish Wing and Art Gallery and the dramatic International Rotunda with its flying buttresses. Other parts of Mission Inn that are of interest are the outdoor Court of the Orient, the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel with its 18-Karat gold leaf Rayas altar and Spanish colonial inspired courtyard known as the Atrio. There are docent tours that highlight the history and evolution of the Mission Inn and the more than 6000 pieces of art on display throughout the hotel.
At Christmas time, the Mission Inn has Festival of Lights. On November 29, 2013 was the "flipping of the switch" ceremony, which kicks off five weeks of holiday merriment featuring one of the nation's largest holiday light collections of its kind. The is the 21st year and the Festival of Lights is na annual gift to the community from property owners Duane and Kelly Roberts who saved the Mission Inn from destruction in 1992. There are nearly 4 million holiday lights followed by a full fireworks display and continues through January 5, 2014. This event is free. Highlights of the event include appearances by Santa Claus, the world's largest manmade mistletoe measuring 12'x 8', horse -drawn carriage rides, freshly fallen snow, an elaborately decorated Christmas tree in the hotel lobby, and delectable holiday confections at the original famous Casey's boutique located at the Inn.
The City of Riverside has adopted the Mission Inn's Festival of Lights as a citywide initiative with a vision of a Dickensian holiday spectacle featuring lights and decorations throughout downtown Riverside. There is an outdoor ice-skating rink on the Main Street pedestrian mall, holiday vendors and family-friendly entertainment.