Are you SURE you want to do this?

Thanksgiving in Southern California was marked by rain, rain and more rain, by the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, televised across the nation from New York,     

  and then by a blow-out lunch.

Gradually the rain lightened to short, sharp showers. By the afternoon of Black Friday pent-up energy needed to be spent…

“Are you SURE you want to do this?” Cal Son asked as he outlined the options. “Peace and quiet at home for a couple of hours – or solid noise and sweaty children?” Bravely, rashly, Boatwif opted for the latter. It was an informed choice though as there had been a previous Skyzone visit some years ago. Toddlers and kids, teens and adults pay to bounce  – to bounce on squares, to swing across assault courses,  to bounce up to basketball nets, to bounce and avoid the dodge balls. Yes, it was noisy but fun.

Then, come Saturday, (yes, “SURE” we wanted to do this), there was a totally new experience. It involved about a two hour drive north to Ontario, a city east of Los Angeles, for, well, a sound and light extravaganza. Cal Son had bought family tickets for the west coast winter tour of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra  back in August, acquiring two more tickets a week or so ago.  His briefing notes were very helpful:

  • The Toyota Arena has a 10,000+ seating capacity
  • It’s a multi-use large space, used for sports events, concerts and as an ice rink
  • There will be security and bag checks on entry to the building
  • The performance will be loud
  • There will be fire and smoke
  • There will be Christmas music, but not as previously heard…
  • The show involves about a dozen performers but requires a technical crew of 100
  • Americans at concerts are inclined to get out of their seats and go and buy some food…

Travel time up to Ontario initially went well – passing untamed terrain,     a resort town and the higher mountains topped by snow.  There was time for a Panera Bread lunch stop at Corona.

Then in the Los Angeles Basin came freeways and flyovers.   HEAD WEST FOR BEACH CITIES, said a sign. The last two miles were crawled at snail’s pace as dense traffic converged on the Arena.

It was a close-run thing but by one minute past start time the car had been parked and seats located.  View across the arena, from Row D:.  View from the gods for Cal Guy Snr and the Captain:

Ten minutes later with most of the audience seated the show began.




Gantries rising and lowering.      

Changing screen backdrops.    

Starlight. Falling snow. Stage levels raised.

Musicians – keyboards, percussion, guitars, violin…

Choreographed singers.

Traces of Christmas carols and classical music, revamped, rock-style. (See promotional video here: )

It was sheer visual and aural overload…

But then sheer magic took over – against a tightly timed musical score and in a magnificent bass voice a narrator began to speak. Phillip Brandon with great presence and charisma delivered a Christmas Eve story, largely in verse – an angel had been sent to earth on Christmas Eve to discover the good of humanity.

The Christmas part of the concert lasted about 90 minutes. Then, after credits, curtain calls and standing applause to honour the US military, the rock show resumed, now at full loud rip.

Lightning was created by a tuned lightning generator. Flames    and fireworks shot up from the stage,    the timings precisely matched with the musical rhythms.

And when the show was over there was a bare 75 minutes before it would all roll through again for that evening’s performance.

Overnight the rig, stage and equipment were to be dismantled, packed into 20 trucks and driven eastwards to Phoenix, Arizona to set up for two shows before moving on to El Paso in Texas… (The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with two complete outfits, is playing  their 21st Winter Tour concurrently as an East Coast and a West Coast Show. This year there are 110 TSO dates playing in 36 States…)

If the aged parents had been at all uncertain about submitting themselves to a “prog rock” concert there were no regrets: what a sensational experience it was! It was also a first for Cal Guy Jnr – and he enjoyed it too! 

Could eyes and ears survive a third day’s assault? Well yes, though the Sunday event was more spectacle than assault. In warm sunshine the local population perched kerb-side waiting for the annual San Marcos Holiday Parade to progress past the San Marcos Number 1 Fire Station  along the traffic freed West Mission Road to the Civic Center.

More on that next time…

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1 Response

  1. Jaqueline Biggs says:

    Spectacular photos Sue, especially of the snow clad mountains. How envious am I that you ate at Panera Bread! The food there is wonderful; sadly they have little for me to enjoy anymore as GF is not a high priority for them. Lovely to see Haydn smiling and looking so happy and Ceryis too. Please as punch it all went well and you are both back home safe and sound.

    Love Jaq xxx

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