The USS Midway Museum decked out the carrier from bow to stern with hundreds of thousands of twinkling and shimmering lights to celebrate the holiday season with “Jingle Jets,” its inaugural festive lighting experience. This joyous evening event, 18 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, was the newest holiday tradition in San Diego.
Midway was transformed from a mighty warship into a winter wonderland with an aviation twist to bring an extraordinary holiday spirit to the San Diego Bayfront.
“We were very excited to bring Jingle Jets to San Diegans,” said Mark Berlin, Midway’s director of operations and guest services. “This was not only an incredible holiday experience, but was totally unique in San Diego.”
Jingle Jets encompassed Midway’s flight deck and hangar deck, as well as a portion of its lower deck.
“Jingle Jets was my favorite experience this holiday season,” said Karla Fernadez. “There were so many different activities that everyone in my family enjoyed, from the Christmas lights throughout the ship, to writing letters to those serving in the military. My daughter even pretended she was an actual pilot in a helicopter. It was a wonderful experience filled with Christmas magic. We hope to visit again next year.”
As visitors entered the hangar deck, they were greeted by holiday carolers as they meandered through a wintery forest of illuminated trees filled with brilliantly lit tunnels, life-size holiday ornaments, reindeer, and a polar bear or two. Overhead truss lighting filled the hangar with hues of red, green and blue, and additional lighting from above projected simulated snowflakes.
“This was one of the best Christmas light events I have ever attended,” said Bradley Johnson. “The women’s trio singing Christmas carols was fantastic, and the lights were beautiful. We heard about it on the news and were so glad we went.”
The carrier’s flight deck showcased an array of overhead white icicle lights crisscrossed from decorative truss towers, while the fantail was brought to life with three 20-foot rope-light Christmas trees. Nearly a dozen of Midway’s aircraft were wrapped in holiday lights, while the others received unique lighting treatments. The flight-deck superstructure was awash in traditional seasonal colors and featured a prominent holiday wreath projected onto the island to complete the flattop’s festive atmosphere.
“It was a fabulous event,” said Roxanne Dyer. “We took the entire family and enjoyed our greatest treasure here in San Diego.”
Guests who ventured down to the 2nd deck were guided through the mess deck that was brightly decorated with Christmas trees, as well as red and white candy cane poles adorned with ribbon, garland and wreaths. Midway staff made holiday stationery that was available on the mess-deck tables and encouraged visitors to write letters to service members. Over the course of Jingle Jets, guests wrote more than 2,500 letters that were later delivered to the Navy to be given to San Diego-based sailors.
“We really enjoyed writing letters to deployed service members,” said Lacie Page. “The lights were beautiful, and it was so much fun. It was definitely the highlight of our Christmas season.”
Along with the opportunity to send holiday wishes to those serving in the military, the flight deck featured dancing with a DJ spinning holiday tunes, as well as multiple photo opportunities. In the hangar, a naval aviation-styled Santa Claus interacted and took photographs with visitors in his red flight suit while sitting in his holiday ejection seat. Specialty holiday-themed treats, along with seasonal merchandise, were also available at the museum’s Café 41 and Jet Shop giftshop.
News media coverage of Jingle Jets spread not only across the country, but also into Canada where a husband and wife in Toronto found the story fascinating. A few days later, when the couple was visiting their daughter, who now lives in San Diego, they had to check it out for themselves. They said Jingle Jets was a fantastic experience and well worth coming all the way from Canada.
“We wanted our guests to feel like they’ve stepped into an amazing holiday world, a place that brought joy and magic like they’ve never experienced anywhere else,” said Cheryl Carlson, Midway’s director of special events. “The response from the more than 20,000 guests that visited Midway for Jingle Jets was phenomenal. I’m sure our holiday lights extravaganza will become a great new and memorable holiday tradition in San Diego.”