Driving around aimlessy can bring holiday cheer


Here’s a little update on something I mentioned in my column last week.
So far, Kim and I are on schedule to spend some windshield time each weekend leading up to Christmas. Mostly, we are driving around to look at Christmas lights, which from the looks of things, has become the No. 1 national pastime this holiday season.
Our first weekend outing took us on the new driving tour of Illuminations at Botanica in Wichita. We did more lights in Wichita this past weekend, two road trips out of the area are on tap after that, and finally as we get into the Christmas weekend we will finish up with light displays in and around the communities covered by TSnews.
We’re like the Wise Men, following a star in the East…and eventually we’ll end up at the most important destination of all.
I took some pictures as Kim and I drove through the new displays at Botanica, and several people have asked me about it (the driving tour) since then. There’s a charge by the carload, and we had a ticket given to us by friends, but I would still pay the asking price. It’s $25 on the weekends and cheaper during the week, and you drive around this massive display set up in the Botanica parking lot.
There’s still walking access to the lights on the Botanica grounds, which is a separate tour. We chose not to do that, but it is an option, as well.
We loved the driving tour ­– set to music – and if you do a carload of folks, it’s not that expensive. And, all of the proceeds go to support Botanica’s operations. The Arc’s Lights, supporting the Arc of Sedgwick County, is a similar drive-through treat.
This past weekend, we spent our Saturday night delivering a couple of Christmas presents before viewing more Christmas lights. We dropped off the gifts and visited from the front porch for a few minutes, which made the evening a little brighter for all of us.
Since we ended up on the east side of Wichita for our last drop off, we decided to make our annual sweep through College Hill. The most spectacular light sights are just west of Douglas and Oliver.
Wichita’s College Hill neighborhood has tons of beautifully decorated houses, and driving around its streets always brings out the Christmas spirit in me. Don’t miss the area north of Douglas on Pershing, which is always famously lined with multicolored sticks of lights in an array of colors anchored in the ground. Just across Douglas, starting in the 100 block of South Pershing, streets are always lined with luminaria. Just follow the glowing curb-level lights.
That filled up our evening Saturday, and we weren’t alone. There was an endless parade of cars doing the same thing…which is one of the few safe holiday adventures this Christmas season.
This next weekend, our plan is to surprise my brother and sister-in-law in Marion (don’t tell them we’re coming!) to drop off a gift there, and visit from the porch, as well. After that surprise stop, we’ll check out lights that have been recommended in Marion, Newton, Park City and Valley Center on the way home.
That will take us right up to Christmas weekend, and we plan to fill those evenings with a couple of outings – one to see lights in several of our area communities, and one starting with the Isle of Lights in Winfield and working our way home through more of our communities.
Without the blessings of family gatherings at Christmas this year, we need to make our own holiday smiles this holiday season. We’ve found that a nice drive, Christmas music on the radio, a few snacks and fantastic Christmas light displays can go a long way toward making that happen.