The Cambrian

45,000 see light show at Cambria Christmas Market

A family takes a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge light display at the Cambria Christmas Market. Kasha Daniloff, 5, leads the way; behind her on left is Janessa Harris, 5, and behind Kasha on right is Kyla King, 7. Derek King is at rear left, and Jasmine Holt, rear right.
A family takes a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge light display at the Cambria Christmas Market. Kasha Daniloff, 5, leads the way; behind her on left is Janessa Harris, 5, and behind Kasha on right is Kyla King, 7. Derek King is at rear left, and Jasmine Holt, rear right. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

About 45,000 people strolled through the lavish light show and marketplace of the 2015 Cambria Christmas Market, slightly more than had been expected by officials of the sponsoring Cambria Pines Lodge, George Marschall, the market’s manager, estimated Monday, Dec. 28.

Some who saw this year’s displays went to social media to share their glowing photographs and equally radiant memories.

The marketplace area and a related display at the Cambria Nursery and Florist included lighted tunnels, an aquarium scene, interactive “Christmas cards,” various tableaus and (of course) Santa Claus, along with vendor booths, and in the words of one young attendee, “at least a gazillion lights!”

A new display that drew lots of rave reviews was the replica of one span of the Golden Gate Bridge “done up in orange lights and posts. You could walk through it,” Marschall said. “It was a great picture point.”

Changeable weather didn’t keep the crowds away, he said, even though the 21-day run of the market included 14 days with rain, drizzle, sprinkles or heavy dew. Nighttime temperatures were frequently in the 40s.

Several nights drew capacity crowds of 2,900 or so, Marschall said, the maximum number officials admitted on any one evening.

“That number makes it a nice visit for everybody, and the parking’s not overwhelmed,” he said.

Although the market’s last night was Dec. 23, some of the holiday light displays at the lodge and nursery were lit during the evenings through the holiday weekend. However, the public was not allowed in the marketplace areas on those nights.

In previous years, the market triggered some complaints about traffic, parking and public safety. This year, thanks in part to the new system of shuttles to and from off-site parking sites, the event apparently didn’t prompt any formal objections or comments, according to fire, law enforcement or other officials contacted by The Cambrian.

Parking areas on lodge grounds were reserved for employees, market vendors and lodge patrons.

Occasionally, according to Marschall, the number of people who wanted to get on the shuttles exceeded capacities of the available shuttles, and if those people had gone to the event, they would have overloaded the market itself.

(It) ran much better this year, and we’ll keep working out the bugs. Our goal is to always make the community happy.

George Marschall, Cambria Christmas Market manager

“We had to turn quite a few people away,” he said.

However, some in the community didn’t like the large “event parking” and “no event parking” signs posted liberally throughout the affected areas. A few others said they were upset about the noise from repeated uphill trips by the shuttle buses.

Linda Balfe of Cambria said in early December that the signs were so plentiful, so large and so annoying, “I feel I’m living near a fairgrounds … I don’t think I’ll go down that street (Burton Drive) anymore. It makes me tearful. It’s an aesthetic issue for me.”

Tony Church, chairman of the North Coast Advisory Council’s Traffic Committee, said he didn’t receive any complaints personally this year, and only one was referred to him by someone else. That comment apparently came from an East Village merchant who felt the event and its large “no event parking” signs were directing visitors away from that shopping district.

Marschall said he feels the market “ran much better this year, and we’ll keep working out the bugs. Our goal is to always make the community happy.”

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