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Holiday lights take a special meaning deep in the Adirondack Mountains


Holiday lights can transform the mundane into magic in the deep winter. NPR's Brian Mann visited a light display in New York's Adirondack Mountains that also weaves in the enchantment of music, dark woods and fresh snow.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: I'm walking down a bridge that, in the summertime, would be going along the edge of a little pond here, but now it's covered in ice and snow. And the bridge is just completely decked in white lights.

Night comes early here in the North. It's already pitch black. In the distance, I can see the Wild Center. It's a nature museum in Tupper Lake, N.Y. But this glowing path leads the other direction, into the trees.

CATHERINE SEIDENBERG: We're standing in the middle of a snow-covered forest.

MANN: That's my friend Catherine Seidenberg, who's sharing the walk. We look up at big white pines, their trunks wrapped in blue, yellow and rose light.

SEIDENBERG: It's really pretty and magical. And there's pools of different colored light reflecting down on the snow. And there's ethereal music playing.


MANN: The museum's crew decorates this forest every year, making these luminous paths. And they also enlist a composer to make music. We find Bonnie Durbin walking arm in arm through one of the pools of light with her husband, Gil.

BONNIE DURBIN: They got this music playing. And it's just nice to get away and enjoy the walk together and, you know, get a little peace.

MANN: It's cold. I can see my breath in the colored light. There are people everywhere in heavy coats and mittens.

TERRY LOW: The crunch of the snow. It's just gorgeous. It's just a Christmas scene.

MANN: Terry Low and her husband, Ralph, are walking close together, keeping each other warm.

RALPH: Well, we recently had, like, 2 feet of snow, so all the trees are beautiful, the whole thing.

LOW: Chill in the air. It's just...

RALPH: And then they have a nice musical accompaniment.

MANN: We walk on deeper into the woods where more people are gathered, their faces glowing in the light.

So I've come to a place in the forest where a sculptor has woven branches and twigs. And it's kind of like a big, beautiful nest. And then the nest is covered with lights.

JOCELYN DUBREY: It's, like, mesmerizing. Like, there's so much to look at at once.

MANN: Jocelyn Dubrey has come with a friend, Skyler Spoor, both bundled against the cold.

DUBREY: It's honestly magical. Like, this place feels blissful.

MANN: People just stand looking, a lot of them holding each other. Outside this circle of light, the woods are black. Wilderness stretches away in every direction, icy and still. But here in the glow, it feels a little like church.

Brian Mann, NPR News, in Tupper Lake, N.Y. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Brian Mann
Brian Mann is NPR's first national addiction correspondent. He also covers breaking news in the U.S. and around the world.