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28.11.03

Christmas Industry

During a visit with friends in the Virginia Beach area today, I happened to experience for the first time what has become an annual tradition in that city, the Christmas light display along the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The "boardwalk" at Virginia Beach is a sort of paved road that is normally closed to car traffic. In the crazed buildup to the Christmas buying season, the city puts up a display of Christmas lights on the boardwalk from 2nd to 28th Street, and for the price of $10 per vehicle cars can drive along the boardwalk and see them. The Thanksgiving weekend is probably the busiest and therefore worst time to do this, but we waited in line and paid for our share in the holiday cheer.

The wait and expense were justified only by the experience, right out of The Simpsons, of being confronted by the greed and vulgarity of corporate America on display in the Chick-fil-A Holiday Lights at the Beach, Presented by Verizon Wireless. As we passed through the lighted gate advertising for Chick-fil-A, we were given a cassette tape to play in the car's stereo system. The first song began with the lyrics "We wish you would eat more chicken" to the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (I am not making this up), and advertisements for the sponsors were placed between the dreadful renderings of holiday favorites. You can experience it yourself through January 4, if you are in the Virginia Beach area, and fill out this grotesquely unedited survey of how it changed your life. The only appropriate word is one invented, I think, by Bart Simpson: "craptacular."

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