City News: September 2006 Archives

Riverside embraces the 'Lights'

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Now that the Orange Blossom Festival is officially kaput, officials in Riverside are eyeing an enlarged Festival of Lights as a quasi-replacement for the annual citrus celebration.

Already a great success in its own right, the annual FOL draws tens of thousands of visitors from throughout Southern California during the winter holidays. The centerpiece of the nightly event is the historic Mission Inn, aglow with millions of holiday lights and animated figures. The festivities extend to the adjacent Main Street Pedestrian Mall where horse-drawn carriages and carolers stroll amongst one-of-a-kind shops.

The event, which began as a modest hotel-only event in 1993, has since grown into one of the premier holiday lights displays in the country:

Mission Inn - Campanario

Mission Inn - Spanish Patio
The festival has become nationally known -- an article in People magazine in 2005 put a photo of the Mission Inn all lit up next to a photo of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The Press-Enterprise

With the city's backing, an enlarged event will add an outdoor ice rink and expanded holiday decorations/lights throughout downtown.

In light of the growing popularity of the FOL, reservations are recommended for the various horse-drawn carriages as well as dinner at any of the Mission Inn restaurants, Mario's Place or Cafe Sevilla -- particularly on weekends and days in and around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. And if you're planning an overnight stay, advanced reservations are highly recommended for either the Mission Inn or Marriott hotels.

Although we lament the complete loss of the Orange Blossom Festival and hope the city revives some sort of citrus heritage celebration and/or arts & culture expo in the near future, we agree that an expanded Festival of Lights could turn out to be a much bigger boon to the city. After all, instead of one huge weekend event, the FOL lasts nearly 6 weeks.

Not a bad "replacement," to say the least.




Out & About - 09/24/2006

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Sunday, September 24, 2006 - A few photos and thoughts while browsing various new home developments in both Riverside and Corona.

The trip begins with the Alta Cresta development in southeastern Riverside. In most respects, Alta Cresta is the second major phase of the city's master-planned Orangecrest development, both of which actually began as a county projects prior to annexation into Riverside. New neighborhoods taking shape include those at Mission Ranch: Windsong, Hawksbury, Ardenwood and Turnbridge. Each tract offers large homes (2,600 - 4,304 sq. ft.) with many on large lots (10,000 sq. ft.). However, most also come with hefty price tags ($555,000 - $769,000).

Next up are new home developments in the La Sierra area of southwestern Riverside, namely those along the reconfigured Dufferin Avenue (now McAllister Parkway). Homes in the Bridgeport and Stone Harbor communities are also quite large, (3,200 - 5,100 sq. ft.) and likewise tend to also be on larger lots. The optional casita is a novel idea found at a Stone Harbor model. Prices range from $728,000 - $923,000. Similar homes are on the horizon at the Sierra Estates tract.

Finally, we end with two developments in southern Corona: Dos Lagos and The Retreat. Both are master-planned communities and both include championship golf courses (and championship golf course prices - upwards of $1,000,000 at The Retreat). In particular, we again found the optional "walk-up casita" at one of The Retreat models a nice touch and the elevation styles at Dos Lagos uniquely different.

Not to be overlooked, Dos Lagos also includes an outdoor lifestyle center -- The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos -- which is set to open October 6th. It will be Corona's first large-scale, mall-like development. Tenants include Coach, Talbots, Coldwater Creek, White House | Black Market, Banana Republic, Z Gallerie and Wood Ranch BBQ among others.


Out & About - 09/16/2006

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Saturday, September 16, 2006 - A few photos and thoughts while strolling the Main Street Pedestrian Mall in downtown Riverside.

The weather was sunny and mild as folks browsed the quaint stores or grabbed a bite to eat. Paper covers the windows of the future Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which is scheduled to open shortly at the base of the California Tower. Valet parking was very busy at the Mission Inn hotel as both restaurant and hotel guests arrived and departed. The outdoor dining area for the hotel's Las Campanas restaurant was brimming with chatter as patrons ate lunch al fresco. No doubt the interior restaurants were much the same.

Walking past the long-shuttered Imperial Hardware building, one can't help but notice the semi-rusty, mid-century facade above that harkens back to a different era when downtown was the epicenter of shopping with such outlets as Sears and JCPenney. The building itself goes back to the early 1900s when it first opened as Franzen Hardware and later became Westbrook's (likely hidden behind the current metal facade is the 1930s art deco facade of Westbrook's). There's been talk recently of an office building proposed for the site.

Oh, and we noticed Starbucks' new downtown location, which is a couple blocks north of the pedestrian mall, is now open.

Giant Orange ArtVenture

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"Welcome to Riverside"

"Riverside...And All that Jazz"

This weekend marks the last time you'll be able to see all (or nearly all) of the large "art" oranges in downtown Riverside as the very successful "The Giant Orange Artventure" is coming to an end.

Last June, after many months of artistic preparation, 32 fiberglass oranges were "planted" in various locations throughout downtown. Each of the 4-foot-round oranges was sponsored by local businesses/philanthropists for $5,000 each and painted/decorated by artists, most of which had local roots. Proceeds from the exhibit support the Riverside Art Museum.

Though the majority of the oranges depict local history, the artistic expressions range from abstract art to snippets of Ralph Waldo Emerson. To truly appreciate the intricate artwork that went into the oranges, one needs to give close inspection. And though there are many great examples to appreciate, our favorite -- "Under the Citrus Sun" -- is located in front of City Hall. The representation of Riverside's skyline, Mission Inn and Fox Theater via the use of mosaics is exquisite. Another favorite is "Our Emerging City" by artist Ada M. Passaro.

The public exhibit, coordinated by the Riverside Art Museum's Art Alliance, was patterned after Chicago's popular "Cows on Parade" (1999), wherein artists painted fiberglass cows that were later auctioned off.

Beginning September 13th, many of the oranges will be relocated to other public and private spots, though some will likely remain close to their original spots (our hope is that a number of them remain, particularly on the downtown pedestrian mall). At least 4 ("Riverside: Vision of an Enlightened City" / "Bearing Fruit" / "La Naranja" / "The Squeeze") will be acutioned off October 13th at a special fundraising event with the proceeds again benefiting the Riverside Art Museum.

See all 32 of the giant oranges.


"Our Emerging
"Picked By

Sources: Riverside Art Museum, The Press-Enterprise
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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the City News category from September 2006.

City News: August 2006 is the previous archive.

City News: November 2006 is the next archive.

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