The loveliest gift of the Holiday season at Disneyland comes just two days a year, when the Candlelight Ceremony and Processional is performed in front of the Main Street Railroad Station on the first weekend of December. It has been performed; weather permitting, every year since 1958.
Candlelight is one of the most beloved and eagerly anticipated events of the Disneyland calendar. A musical retelling of the story of “The First Christmas” through song and scripture, it features the Disneyland® Symphony Orchestra, and magnificent soloists encircled by enthusiastic and talented singers from a variety of remarkable choral groups. This year the singers, more than 500 of them, were from the following groups:
The Arlington High School Chamber Singers
Bellflower High School Vocal Ensemble and Alumni
Disney Cast Choir
Fullerton Union High School Vocal Ensemble
Green Valley High School Madrigal Singers
John Burroughs High School Powerhouse
John Burroughs High School VMA Alumni Choir
The Krewe of Good Gifts
Murrietta Mesa High School Chamber Singers
Murrietta Valley High School Chorale
Rancho Verde High School Chamber Choir
Serrano Alumni Choir
Handbells, a perennial favorite, were presented by the nationally recognized Concordia University Irvine Handbell Choir.
Add to this the majesty of Fanfare Trumpets perched atop the Railroad Station, and a celebrity narrator, and you have the recipe for palpable joy. It is the perfect way to welcome the holiday season, particularly in an area of the country that is not likely to have a snowy Christmas Day. When you experience the 45-minute, unapologetically sentimental tapestry of Candlelight, you are set for the holidays through New Year’s Eve and beyond.
The guest narrator is the cherry on top of Candlelight. The first narrator, in 1961, was actor Dennis Morgan, best known for the film, “Christmas in Connecticut.” Over the years narrator included such celebrities as James Earl Jones, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Mickey Rooney, Charleton Heston, Gregory Peck, Marie Osmond, Dick Van Dyke, Jon Voight and Gary Sinise. Actor Beau Bridges, son of actor Lloyd Bridges and brother of Jeff, was the narrator this year. Bridges has a unique distinction as a Candlelight narrator, as he was born two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and delivered by candle light because of power outages.
This year’s presentation on December 6 and 7, had all the best elements for a perfect Candlelight – lovely weather with low wind, organized seating for those who knew how to score tickets, or have a special relationship with the Park, flanked by standing die-hard fans of the season who did not have seats (having been a part of the media section, I have no idea how people learned how to get tickets this year. I never saw anything publically that announced about their availability). Many people show up early in the mornings of Candlelight to claim a spot hours before the program begins in the evening. During the Halleluiah Chorus, everyone was standing and singing full voice on Main Street.
Traditional events bring people back year after year. There were many reunions happening in the audience before and after the show by people who only get to see each other once a year at the event. Past Disneyland Ambassadors were seated together and after the performance stood together talking, laughing and sharing memories. The feeling of family, the joy of the season and the magic of Disneyland combined to make it a truly memorable evening.