Lake-Effect Weather, and some Christmas Enchantments!

The Downtown Christmas Tree, Corner of Front and Cass
The Downtown Christmas Tree, Corner of Front and Cass

By MIKE NORTON

 Ah, the famous Lake Effect! Once again, our winter snow machine is churning away.

 Here on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, lake effect is a regular winter phenomenon. As the cold air moves down on us from the Canadian northwest, it passes over the (relatively) warm waters of the lake and creates bands of snow-filled clouds, interspersed with brief periods of clear sky. One minute the sun will be shining, and the next you won’t be able to see across the street because of all those big fluffy flakes.

 (I’m just glad I finally got all the firewood split and stacked.) Hey, it’s why we live here in the winter. I think the winter of 2010-2011 is going to be another great ski season – but even if your idea of winter sports is snuggling down next to the fireplace with a good book, a lake-effect snow is the stuff of Christmas cards. It’s just so darned beautiful!

The Wellington Inn -- all Dolled Up for Christmas
The Wellington Inn — all Dolled Up for Christmas

 Speaking of Christmas cards, there are so many wonderful holiday events going on around Traverse City this week. This past Sunday, the Wellington Inn held the first of its weekly “Inn at Christmastime” open house events. From 2-6 p.m. on the next two Sundays, the stately 1905 mansion in Traverse City’s historic Boardman neighborhood — filled with a spectacular display of holiday designs and decorations – is open for public tours, followed by holiday sweets and hot mulled cider in the third floor ballroom. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information call 231-922-9900 or visit www.WellingtonInn.com

 Each December, the dance department at the Interlochen Center for the Arts puts on one of three traditional holiday ballets in Corson Auditorium. This weekend it’ll be the Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky’s classic 1890 fairy tale of enchantment, true love and magical kisses. These performances are always brilliantly executed, and a real treat for Christmas! To find out more contact the Interlochen Box Office at (800) 681-5920 or  ticket.interlochen.org

 A little more audience participation is called for at the Traverse Symphony Orchestra’s annual Sing for Joy concert at the City Opera House. This annual concert is a much-loved part of the Traverse City Christmas tradition, and for the first time in many years Maestro Kevin Rhodes will personally be on hand with a  parade of vocal soloists and  holiday favorites. There’s an evening performance Saturday at  7:30 and a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. Call (231) 947-7120 or log on at  traversesymphony.org

 Interested in a more small-town version of holiday music? Take the drive up to the little village of Northport, at the top of the Leelanau Peninsula, where they have a lovely community-style Christmas concert featuring over 100 performers (must be almost the town’s entire winter population) including the Village Voices and the Northport Community Band all playing in the local Community Arts Center. I’ve been to this one, and it’s worth the drive. Saturday’s performance begins at 8pm and Sunday’s matinee is at 3.  Phone: (231) 386-5001 or go to www.northportcac.org

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About mikelovestc

These days, I’m the media relations guy for the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, but before that I spent 25 years as a reporter and columnist at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, a job that frequently took me out into the most remote backroads, forests, beaches and islands of the beautiful Grand Traverse Region. My strategy was pretty simple — just drive, paddle, ski or walk until you’re certain you’re lost, and then find somebody to talk to. It was a great job! I never intended to live in Traverse City. I grew up in Grand Rapids, spent four years in the Coast Guard in places like Miami Beach, Monterey and San Francisco, and when I finally graduated from college I took a summer job at the Miami Herald. To my surprise, I discovered I didn’t like the tropics nearly as much as I thought I would — and when the Record-Eagle offered me a job I took it, figuring I’d put in a year or two and head off to someplace like Seattle or Portland. What I discovered very quickly is that this place gets to you in a variety of unexpected ways. The beaches here are as lovely as anyplace else I’ve ever been, the weather is mild all year round — warm enough for swimming in September and cold enough for skiing in December — and just about the time you’re getting tired of one season you get another one every bit as pleasant. The people are laid-back and friendly, the music and arts scene is awesome, and the place still hasn’t gotten so sophisticated that a guy like me feels out of place.
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