Montage Kindles Lights of the Season

The Montage resort’s third annual tree lighting this past Monday drew throngs that enjoyed free treats offered throughout the grounds as well as a festive atmosphere under a nearly full moon.

Along with caroling and a visit from Santa, the event came with several surprises. After guests joined the countdown for the tree lighting, the towering pine that required a crane to erect blazed briefly, eliciting shouts from the crowd. And then it blacked out, drawing a different sound from bystanders.

But all came right as the tree relit and a blast of faux snow showered the gathering. Hotel General Manager Todd Orlich and the hotel’s employee group provided another surprise, a $5,000 check for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

The event did snarl southbound rush-hour traffic and annoyed some shopping center patrons, who were squeezed out of parking spaces. A shuttle available to the hotel from Aliso Beach parking lots was not widely promoted.

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