December Nights festival continues in Balboa Park

Event runs from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday

SAN DIEGO - The annual December Nights holiday festival in Balboa Park continues on Saturday.

The 35th edition of the event formerly known as Christmas on the Prado runs from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday. 

It began Friday evening with a romantic proposal. During the opening ceremony at the Organ Pavilion, twinkling lights gave life to a Christmas tree.

The only thing that sparkled more was the engagement ring on Holly Jackson's finger.

Marine Paul McQueen won a $10,000 ring after telling of injuries from Iraq and how Jackson stayed by his side.

"Holly Jackson, you're more than I deserve," said McQueen. "You're all that I desire and everything that makes me feel whole. Would you like to be with me until the end of time?"

In front of McQueen's son, Jackson said, "Yes" and the crowd erupted in cheers.

The bride and groom-to-be were among other families making memories at Balboa Park.

Joseph Kearns was there with his 2-year-old girl.

"There's history here and I want her to start learning the history early and be able to appreciate it for everything that it is," he told 10News.

Museums will be open for free from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. House of Hospitality will also be open with food samples and cultural displays.

December Nights also includes live musical and stage performances.

The event normally attracts around 300,000 people over the two days, so attendees are cautioned to arrive early, use public transit, and be prepared to wait in line.

Free parking is available at San Diego City College, where a free shuttle will run every 10 to 15 minutes. Another shuttle is scheduled to run from the parking lot at Imperial Avenue and 13th Street -- adjacent to Petco Park -- where the parking will cost $5.

City officials hope to leverage Balboa Park's popularity to build momentum for the park's centennial in 2015.

San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria spoke of exciting plans to improve the park but donations are needed.

"If you sat through the traffic to get here tonight and if you circled to find a parking space or took the tram, I know you love Balboa Park, and I know you're willing to do more for the park," he said.

Gloria said the park's centennial could bring in as much money to the city as four Comic-Cons.

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