Every night until January 8th, visitors will file in and around the The Mission Inn for its Festival of Lights, enjoying 3.6 million twinkling bulbs in the Mission Revival resort. The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, frankly, is stunning without the holiday bling, so this display is remarkable.
As dusk fell on this day, Markus Buettner, Director of Room Operations, was preparing the Presidential Suite, lighting candles in the holiday decorated room. Outside, the bell tower rang.
At 6-foot-4, with a childlike smile, the former semi-pro football player from Germany makes for an impressive elf. He even pointed out some of the guests favorite views. On the top floor, an older couple was watching the sunset waiting for the lights to start. "You feel Christmas setting over you when the sun goes done," said one.
"We had an estimated 250,000 visitors last year," said Buettner, He excused himself for his next duty; donning a Santa Claus outfit to greet the children of guests properly.
Video credits: photos and video by Ed Fuentes. Sax performed and arranged by Skip Johnson