RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — The Festival of Lights makes the holiday season a little brighter for the residents of the Inland Empire. Actually make that a lot brighter.
The Mission Inn in Riverside is the place to be and CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Jeff Nguyen went Friday as a new impressive display was lit.
He spoke to Donna Little and her family. For nearly 10 years Little has reserved the patio seating at Mario’s Place — right across the street from the spectacular light show and fireworks. And she reserved a year in advance.
“We just got in one year and it was so much fun. We just make sure we get the reservation every year now.”
An estimated 60-80,000 people come to town just for the annual event – which fills restaurants and bring people into Craig Johnston’s antique mall.
Says Johnston, “A lot of people buy the small things. They come back tomorrow for the big things.”
The Festival of Lights is a labor of love for Duane and Kelly Roberts who own the Mission Inn.
They started the festival 20 years ago. Says Duane, “It’s approximately 250,000 lights 20 years ago. Now, it’s over 3 million, 600 thousand presently.”
And that’s some light bill. Says Kelly, “It comes out of our pocket. Not any of the taxpayers. And we give it as a gift and we really enjoy doing that for the community.”
Their daughter Casey agrees. “It just puts you in the Christmas spirit. And it’s so family oriented.”
The festival runs for the next six weeks and is free.