We’re very excited to share the story behind the creation of our brand-new set for The Best Santa Experience for 2023. “Santa’s North Pole Lodge” will be filled with wonderful memories and lots of Christmas Magic with none other than Santa Claus himself!
The new set is still “under construction.” But “Elves” Michael and Joannie know that it will be beautiful when all of the final touches are added in time for Santa’s arrival next November.
Cove Point Lodge
Joannie and I thought it might be fun to have a brand-new “location” to meet Kris Kringle for our wonderful Santa Experience next November. I thought that something with a big fireplace would be fun and it would look awesome too!
Well, actually building something like that is pretty cost-prohibitive. So photographing it and making it into a backdrop makes much more sense. Especially when I can use my light painting skills to make it look pretty incredible for our stunning finished Santa Art. There was one place that immediately came to mind to create our new Santa background: Cove Point Lodge.
One of our favorite places to stay in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is at Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay, Minnesota. Cove Point Lodge has been our home base for our Annual North Shore Weekend for probably over 20 years now. We love its close proximity to Split Rock Lighthouse State Park which is where we usually finish up our portrait sessions each day that we’re up there.
Cove Point Lodge is right on the beautiful Lake Superior shoreline with all of its lodge rooms facing the lake. With the incredible scenery, great food, proximity to several state parks, plus waterfalls, and lots of other fun activities, what’s not to love? Oh, and I should mention the smores by the campfire every night! Nice!
Santa Claus on Lake Superior
So, the day after Thanksgiving 2022, we headed up to Lake Superior with our two oldest grandkids, Riley and Ryder. Their parents were attending an out-of-state wedding. So we got the good end of the deal and got to be “Grandparent Sat” by those two!
Upon check-in, we were told that there would be a sing-along with Santa Claus in Mickey’s Fish House down by the lake that night. We had no idea that we were going to see Santa on this trip! So we got all dressed up in our warm clothes (thinking that it would be cold in there) and headed down to check it out!
The wood-burning stove had Mickey’s Fish House nice and toasty, so the warm clothes were not really needed other than for the short walk outside to the building.
What a wonderful experience it was too! Santa was there with one of his elves, Elf Oliver. Oliver handed out the music and some candy canes too! Santa lead the singing and handed out some musical instruments and kazoos too.
What a wonderful way to get you into the holiday spirit! At the conclusion of the sing-along, Santa let us know that he would be at breakfast in the morning for pictures too.
Scandinavian Breakfast with Santa Claus
The next morning we headed down to have breakfast and to get our photo with Santa and Elf Oliver too! We had a nice visit and took a few cell phone pictures, and then enjoyed a nice Scandinavian breakfast as well.
After breakfast, I spoke to the Director of Operations, Kyra, about how nice it was to see Santa there during our visit. She informed me that on the morning before, Santa and many of the lodge guests went into the woods and cut down, and then decorated, the beautiful Christmas Tree that was in the lobby! I wish we could have been part of that, it would have been a unique experience for sure!
During my conversation with Kyra, I told her of my idea to light paint their fireplace for The Best Santa Experience and she loved the idea. I promised that I would wait until the lobby was empty so I wouldn’t bother any of their guests.
I also told her that I had no idea how quickly I could get the light painting created since I was swamped with creating our Santa Storybooks and Santa Art for this year’s families.
Light Painting “After Hours”
That day, we drove to Duluth to take the kids to see the amazing Christmas light display at Bentleyville USA that evening. Along the way to Duluth, we stopped at Gooseberry Falls and a few other places to enjoy what was an unusually warm late November day on Lake Superior. With temperatures in the mid-40s, it was an amazing snow-melting day, and night, up north!
We drove back to Cove Point Lodge and watched Home Alone in our room at bedtime. During the movie, I would slip out and walk down the hallway to see if the lobby was empty. I could see from my vantage point from the 2nd floor, that there was a group of guests having dinner and playing games by the fireplace. So I returned to the room to finish the movie and tuck the kids, and Joannie, in for the night.
After my trio had fallen asleep. I started quietly watching Home Alone 2 and would keep taking my stroll down the hallway until about 1:00 am. The trio was still enjoying their visit, so I set my alarm for 3:00 am and caught some shut-eye. It had been a full day.
At my 3:00 am alarm, the coast was clear!
So I grabbed my tripod and camera gear and headed to the lobby to light paint. I talked to the person manning the front desk, Jobe, about what I was about to do. And to my surprise, he actually knew what light painting is! He even assisted me with moving furniture around and actually fired the camera with my iPad for me too! Thank you, Jobe!
Cove Point Lodge Light Painting
All of my Santa Storybooks and Santa Art is now either at the lab or have been picked up by our wonderful families. Now I finally got to spend some quality time on my Cove Point Lodge light painting project.
Now, there’s always Christmas Magic whenever I work for Santa Claus and Santa’s North Pole Lodge light painting will be no exception.
For Cove Point Lodge, I have created a true-to-life version. Below is what their finished light painting looks like. That’s an actual sunrise in the windows that occurred while we were there that weekend.
“Santa’s North Pole Lodge” will be a variation of this base image. Once that is completed, I’ll be sharing it in another post, and also on our dedicated Santa Experience website at: www.TheBestSantaExperience.com
I’ve created a short movie and placed it on our YouTube Channel. It contains all of the images that I used to create the light painting at Cove Point Lodge. And then it shows the building of the final image that’s all done in Photoshop. The link is below.
Thank you for reading our post and have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2023! – M&J