For the past 35 years, on the second Saturday in December, if you add up a hundred volunteers, two thousand candles plus two thousand brown paper bags, you get one night of pure magic. The Pathway of Lights takes place at Green Lake, a small lake just north of downtown Seattle. If you go, you’ll experience an evening of urban Pacific Northwest at its best: Santa paddles his way across the lake in a kayak accompanied by Rudolf in a canoe. Upwards of ten thousand city dwellers swath themselves in REI finery accessorized with all manner of sparkly hats and blinking jewelry as they walk the 2.8 mile path that surrounds the lake, basking in the glow set off by thousands of luminaria.
The festivities include free musical entertainment, free hot cider, and this year’s event is even offering up a free full moon. Of course, this being Seattle, it’s anyone’s guess if we’ll actually see it. Depending on the year—and the weather– I’ve walked the lake and gazed at luminaria under a dusting of snow, luminaria being blown by fierce winds, and luminaria doing their best to stay lit in a downpour.
But no matter the forecast, I can’t think of a better way to welcome the winter season. Here’s how Big Papa and I get into the spirit. First, the two of us “don we now our fleece apparel.” I deck myself out in some groovy sparkly, jingly or blinky jewels, and sometimes throw on a pair of reindeer antlers for extra panache. Next, we stash a few airplane –sized bottles of Grand Marnier and Amaretto in a backpack which come in handy when we spike two cups of toasty hot cocoa that we purchase at a cute little coffee and chocolate shop a block away from the lake. Then we set out to circumambulate Green Lake.
Big Papa and I have headed out to see the luminaria almost every year since we became a duo. Last year we shared the evening with two close friends, who will be joining us again this year. Before I met Big Papa, I always made a point of going, even if I strolled solo. Because even on the darkest of days, it’s important to seek out the light, embrace what brings us joy, and—when we have the opportunity–share it with others.