Wrap me in a necklace of lights

And tell me what you are grilling this summer.

Wrap me in a necklace of lights
A postcard of the Necklace of Lights from the 1930s

It is finally warm here in Denver! The evenings are lovely! It’s time to eat outside!

If we still lived in Oakland, we’d be packing bean and rice burritos to eat by Lake Merritt most nights. We’d know it was time to go home when the Necklace of Lights came on.

The necklace is a string of lights that goes around the entire lake. Over 4,000 lights held up by 126 lamp poles. The Necklace of Lights was first installed in 1925, when electricity felt still felt grand. 

I make a mean burrito. Also, I can’t stop laughing about Riley’s burrito bite in this photo. Lake Merritt, 2018

In World War II, the necklace was shut off because of nightly blackouts. A lot of the lamp poles were uprooted and used as scrap metal in the war effort. When the war ended, repairing the necklace seemed too costly. It was finally reinstalled and relit in 1987 after community fundraising. 

Over the next few decades, the Necklace fell in and out of disrepair again. And the copper was stripped from the lights by ummmm people who saw an opportunity. The lights went out. They didn’t turn on again until 2016, after we’d been in living in Oakland for sometime. This time, the lights were funded by the Oakland Public Works Agency. And the lights were energy saving LED bulbs. I cried the first time I saw them. 

That seems silly! They’re just lights! But I can’t really explain the effect they have on me. They make electricity seem grand again. I don’t know. I guess I get the feeling from a string of lights that some people get from a string of pearls. 

This is a long image! But I’m including it because it’s such a cool piece of history! More below it.

1922 Newspaper Clip about the beginning of the Necklace of Lights project

But we don’t live in Oakland anymore. We live in Denver. Which we love, even if we miss home. We don’t have Lake Merritt. But we do have a little yard in Denver. We still take bean and rice burritos with us to eat on hikes and at parks. But here on warm weeknights, we’re more likely to cook something on the grill in our little yard. 

So far this week we’ve grilled hamburgers, chicken skewers, onions, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus and bell peppers. I love cooking outside. So much! 

I hope to avoid cooking inside of the kitchen for the next four months. 

  • So I’d love, love, love your favorite outside cooking recipes. Meat, veg, pizza, that one weird cheesecake you can make in a grill, ANYTHING! If it can be cooked on a grill/bbq/smoker, I want the recipe! 
  • Where is your favorite place to eat outside? A park, a hike, by the beach, anywhere you can put a picnic blanket and pull out a book? 
  • Do you have any favorite community-funded or government-funded installations in your community? I just can’t even explain how much the Necklace of Lights adds to that sweet little lake!