COEUR d'ALENE - On the night after Thanksgiving, Christmas officially arrives in Coeur d'Alene.
The 2012 season will open with a bang on Nov. 23, as The Coeur d'Alene Resort Holiday Light Show fires off thousands of fireworks shells and then flips the switch on 1.5 million lights. Hundreds of beautiful displays stay illuminated nightly until Jan. 1.
"The Holiday Light Show has become something very special," said Brad Hagadone, president of the communications division of the Hagadone Corporation, who will emcee the show's opening ceremony for 2012. "For the past 26 years, we've watched it grow into a family tradition for visitors from around the world."
Bill Tunison, director of information services for the Hagadone Corporation, who is retiring at the end of this year, will lead the countdown to ignite the fireworks.
What began as a few lights decorating the front entrance of The Coeur d'Alene Resort has become an international attraction named by ABC's "Good Morning America" as one of the nation's best holiday destinations.
Santa's helpers have been busy preparing this year. About 15 employees of The Coeur d'Alene Resort have worked for eight weeks to set up the displays. All told, they will spend 8,000 hours and install more than five miles of electrical wiring.
The Holiday Light Show creates a magical holiday wonderland of more than 250 displays at The Coeur d'Alene Resort's entrance, along the Resort Floating Boardwalk, and on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene.
Every night, Journey to the North Pole cruises go to view the lights. Passengers enjoy watching from the warmth of the cruise boat as the ship's crew avoids the diabolical Grinch in time to meet Santa and his Elf at the North Pole. There, Santa lights up a giant animated Christmas tree and calls out each child on the boat by name.
This year, the North Pole has several new features, including a bright new SS Santa boat floating in the middle of the bay.
"This is a wonderful holiday adventure for the whole family," said Bill Reagan, general manager of The Coeur d'Alene Resort. "We've added even more excitement to this year's show. You won't want to miss it."
The 2012 Coeur d'Alene Resort Holiday Light Show kicks off with the Holiday Light Show lighting ceremony on Nov. 23, beginning at 5 p.m., which includes a lighted parade through downtown Coeur d'Alene, Christmas carols, candle lighting and a spectacular fireworks show over Lake Coeur d'Alene.
The 2012 Holiday Light Show runs nightly through Jan. 1, 2013. The 40-minute Journey to the North Pole cruise departs throughout the evening beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.75 for adults and $17.75 for seniors 55 and older.
Ages 12 and younger ride free with adult.