Branson For Christmas

by Greta Olsson

Would you like something different for Christmas next year? One very wealthy street in Los Angeles goes all out for house decorations, as does one very wealthy street in San Fernando Valley. Victoria, Canada makes these streets pale with its neighborhood effort, including the harbor, giant ship, admiral's home, and live people as part of the celebrations.

However, Branson, Missouri can give this last group a run for its money. Branson has two elaborate outside light displays. The first is the "Festival of Lights Parkway", featuring more than 75,OOO lights, 7O new displays, 5OO Christmas trees, colorful animated scenes, and the "Avenue of Branson Stars" - a mile and a half country road with thousands of moving lights, forming scenes, leading to a lake with even more lights and razzle dazzle stuff. The second was close by at Silver Dollar City, with a very, very tall tree with 25O,OOO bulbs on it.

There is lake cruising, dining, and music on the showboat, Branson Belle, the largest ship constructed for a landlocked man-made lake. It's the length of a football field, and has climate controlled seating for 65O. You'll also find a Ripley's Believe-It-or-Not museum. But Branson is known best for its shows - over 1OO of them along their Las Vegas like strip.

Do you wish Las Vegas would clean up its act? Branson is rather like a Baptist Las Vegas - all family and no gambling. One performer had his nine kids on stage with him, including his wife and 2 months old baby. No tits, boobs, or nudity. Andy Wi1liams celebrated his 77th birthday with a wonderful Christmas show. The town is seasonal. Go the first week in December when all is fresh and wonderful.

There is a saying in Branson that if you attempt to drive down the strip when all the shows let out, if you start at one end and have just become pregnant, you'll certainly deliver by the time you reach the end of it.

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