Bright lights lead to a wonderland

Posted 11/12/09

What is that elephant doing? Drivers on Santa Fe Drive in Littleton have noticed a life-sized white elephant trailing after an elk, a camel, a moose …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Bright lights lead to a wonderland


What is that elephant doing?

Drivers on Santa Fe Drive in Littleton have noticed a life-sized white elephant trailing after an elk, a camel, a moose and a deer at 6115 S. Santa Fe. They stand out against the tall, dark-green conifers that shelter the Inn at Hudson Gardens from traffic noise. Consider them heralds of a magical event.

Hudson Holiday opens Nov. 21, and before then, they will parade inside the Hudson Gardens boundaries to the large oval garden area, where they will join more than 20 other full-scale critters, ranging down to a mouse, and take their assigned places among curving white yucca poles. There, the menagerie will be washed with changing colors from floodlamps and more than two dozen specially-programmed projectors as they welcome visitors to Hudson Holiday.

The display will run from 5 to 9 p.m. on selected evenings through Jan. 3. See the information box accompanying this article for more details.

Designer Lonnie Hanzon happily imagines how sparkling snow will enhance the scene.

The new lighting extravaganza is a collaboration between a pair of active local non-profits: the Museum of Outdoor Arts and Hudson Gardens and Event Center at 6115 South Santa Fe Drive in Littleton. The two local nonprofit organizations have worked together previously on a display of outdoor sculpture from the MOA collection. In spring 2010, a new maze/labyrinth will be completed on a rise in the Gardens, designed by MOA’s Roger Leitner, available for quiet contemplation.

Entry will be through the concert gates, past the lighted flower garden and into the welcome garden, where tickets will be sold and maps with suggested routes will be available.

MOA president Cynthia Madden Leitner describes Hudson Holiday as “a winking, blinking, flashing, flickering light display complete with the craziest house ever.”

That house is just west of the oval garden, on the bluff overlooking the lower part of the display. Garlands with red bows are strung along fences, with care.

On Nov. 11, Hanzon, creative director at MOA and designer of the display, was completing a script for mythical residents Martha and Fred Kaplinski, who go totally overboard decorating their home. He has actors hired to record a short show that will turn Fred’s lighting on and off in segments, following Hanzon’s storyline. (His focus on low wattage LED lighting throughout is recognized as a green technology path to holiday joy.)

A crew of specialists from California flew in to set up the controllers on the house, a false front that hides the Hudson residence.

“It has 105 channels,” Hanzon says, that turn off and on in time with chatter between Fred and Martha , interspersed with five songs. Local technical expert Tim Keenan will keep it functioning.

On the roof of the residence, visitors will see 1950s-era Santa and reindeer, patterned from a Popular Mechanics magazine pattern.

When visiting families leave the house, they will walk down to the lighted Garden Railway area, a year-round favorite, where a rhinestone-studded train, complete with snowplow, will operate in the miniature landscape which includes historic Littleton buildings. The pergolas beyond the train will be decorated, electric sheep will graze (think Philip Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”) and the new barn will be the location for hot chocolate and tickets for horse and wagon rides looping around the south end of the Gardens.

Electric rabbits will scamper across the landscape and at the western edge of the wetlands will be the wagons that hold Emry Gweldig’s wacky and wondrous inventions, such as a Joy Juicer. (Gweldig and his inventions are also products of Hanzon’s always active imagination).

A camp of paisley, polka dot and patterned teepees is set up near the pond and farther south is Frost Island, where a giant rotating chandelier of icicles floats above a gazebo, next to a spreading old willow wrapped in lights that phase from sapphire to white and back. An arborist was hired to wrap lights here, on the tall ancient cottonwoods, the decorative pear trees and more.

Seasonal music will surround the fantasy.

Dress warmly since this is an outdoor event. There will be several places to warm up and hot cocoa will be available.

Colorado Community newspapers is a media sponsor for Hudson Holidays.

If you go:

Hudson Holiday runs Nov. 21 through Jan. 3 at Hudson Gardens, located at 6115 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton. Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 21-22, 27-29, Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 18-23, 26-31, Jan. 1-3, For information, visit, 797-8565 x321. Admission: $8 adults; $7 seniors; $6 age 4 to 12; 3 and under free. Last tickets sold at 8:30 p.m.


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.