Light parade 2005

street light

Oooh! Aaah!

The Festival of Lights parade is a Palm Springs tradition, held after dark on the first Saturday in December. This year's parade featured the usual assortment of fire trucks, dump trucks, marching bands, horses, floats, miniature horses, important persons, and, of course, the crowd-favorite dancing tractor.

As the shortest day of the year approaches, anything featuring lights is particularly welcome in Palm Springs. The city, you see, sits just east of a huge mountain, which means the sun disappears from the sky long before the official sunset. And when the sun disappears, the cold rises from the desert floor — I'm speaking metaphorically here, not as one that scientifically-challenged — and out come the sweaters, the jackets, the scarves, the long pants, the wool socks, the hats, and other cold-weather garb. Of course, the visitors, many of them, are still running around in their flip-flops, shorts, and T-shirts, since by comparison with Saskatchewan or Montana or North Dakota or other frozen clime, they think it's still balmy. We locals know better.

Taking pictures at the light parade is always chancey, especially with a point-and-shoot, hand-held, auto-everything camera. Mostly you get abstract wavy lights against a black background, unless you are lucky enough to pan the camera just right to capture a sharp picture of a moving object in the dark. Three of my better images from this year are shown below. For more, see the slideshow (sidebar). They're not great photography, but they do give a pretty good feel for what the parade is like.

cement mixer
Cement mixer
dancing tractor
Dancing tractor