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A different display: Columbia Gorge Hotel hangs a new, musical, set of lights

Call it a holiday rarity: a Christmas tradition that’s actually delayed a week or so.

The lighting display will return to Columbia Gorge Hotel. It normally gets illuminated with a public flourish, at Thanksgiving, but this year a new system goes on line in about a week.

Also, with less fanfare; as in no illumination event.

But there will be more music.

The display will be smaller, but in some ways more festive, according to Hotel Manager Paul Robinson.

Sometime next week, hotel crews will begin stringing a new system of computerized lights, visible on the north side of the hotel, with 12,000 color combinations, connected to music.

Yes, the south side will also get its due, where the hotel’s famed lighting display could always been seen from Westcliff Drive. The south-side display will be static, and smaller; yet more artfully arrayed, according to Robinson.

Robinson said the new light show will go up next week and get turned on sometime around Dec. 7.

All this amounts to a change in how the hotel inaugurates the holiday season: There was no formal “illumination” event at Thanksgiving, as in past years.

The new LED system used last year was “a bit bright,” Robinson said.

“We heard from some locals that it was maybe we overdid it,” Robinson said. “We talked to some local artists about how to do some smaller displays, using the trees and other structures to better effect,” he said.

“We listened to what people said and are taking a different approach,” Robinson said.

The new lighting décor is connected to the FM radio system in each room, so guests can tune in.

Once installed, the lights and music can also be enjoyed in the hotel dining room and bar.

In 2011 the hotel replaced its old set of 250,000 lights, which were turned on from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, with a set of brighter, more energy-efficient LED lights. The old incandescent lights cost $2,000 a month to the hotel electrical bill.

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