Willow Glen Holiday Lights

Willow Glen Holiday Lights

Date: (Sat.) Dec. 16, 2017
Location: San Jose, CA
Event Director: - 650.302.4835
Course Setters: Tony Pinkham, Brad Wetmore, Jitka Hiscox
Type: C; 60- or 90-minute Light-O (Score-O) course and potluck social

Please note that fees and time limits apply. Events are typically not canceled due to bad weather.

Invitation From a Departing Course Setter

I hope that you can make it to this event, as this will be the last BAOC event that I will help organize before I move to Portland, Oregon, in January 2018.

We have a great course set that nicely pits those who go after the most controls against those who go after strategic controls. Those who go after the most dense grouping of controls will be rewarded with seeing some incredible decorations, but those who go after three high-point controls and the controls between them might get the best scores ... if they don't run into overtime penalties. It will be interesting to see the strategies used by the top runners, and to hear about the incredible array of decorations by those who go for the best viewing. This is one event in which everyone who participates will be a winner.

As in years past, we will have a moving control (it'll be me again), but this time the moving, lit control will be doing a loop, not a straight line, and it will be at the southwest corner of the loop every 15 minutes (those times are listed on each map). If you find that control, you just need to record the number on that control to prove that you found it. Brownie points go to the person who figures out what the three numbered choices for that control signify (hint: the three numbers offered are for non-Christmas events that happen over these holidays).

Each year there are new decoration themes that various streets or neighborhoods provide. The oldest theme is a small Christmas tree with big lights on the front lawn. One street has colored icicles hanging in trees, others have arches of various kinds and colors over the sidewalk or walkways, two streets have large candy canes, a couple of streets have giant snowflakes over the roadway, some streets have swooshing stars, and another has giant snowmen. I've seen at least a couple of new themes​—​can you identify them?

See the photos on this page for a small peek at the wonderful decorations that you are likely to see. I'm just hoping to see you for the last time before I leave to work for another club in the Pacific Northwest (yes, I'll continue to attend special BAOC events).

– Tony Pinkham

We hope that you can clear your schedule and come out and join us for the ninth annual Willow Glen Holiday Lights Score-O on Saturday, December 16.

This event will be a nighttime Score-O, in which every control is a house decorated with festive lights. You can walk a course with family, or run or walk it by yourself or with a friend. Flashlights and headlamps are optional, but recommended. We also recommend that you wear reflective clothing so that car drivers will be sure to see you. Make your outing as easy or as hard as you want. You decide how many, and which, controls you want to find in either 60 or 90 minutes. You can start in the mass start at 6:00 PM, or you can get an individual start any time between 6:05 and 6:15. You can go by yourself or with a group. Just remember to get back on time, because there are penalties for being late! (Note: Please be sure to check in after you complete your course.)

Bring a flashlight or headlamp, and a pencil (preferred) or pen to mark your control answers. Runners, walkers, families, scouts, neighbors​​—​everyone is invited.

The event will be held at the cafeteria of the Willow Glen Elementary School, on the corner of Lincoln Ave and Minnesota Ave in San Jose (see the directions below). (This is the same location as in the previous years.)

Plan to stay if you want after you finish, and socialize at the annual BAOC potluck social. It's a potluck, so please bring something to share! In addition to the potluck, for you STEM enthusiasts, Peter Graube will again be demonstrating some fun physical principals with his Water Play presentation that is educational and entertaining for all ages.

Get your shopping done early, invite your friends, co-workers, neighbors, house guests, and family, and let's enjoy the last BAOC event of the 2017 season, and celebrate another great year of orienteering! This is definitely a child- and stroller-friendly event (as long as there are adults on hand to watch over the children on the course).

There will be beginner clinics if requested, but if you can find your way around with a street map, you should be able to navigate around Willow Glen with our map.

We hope to see many of you out there ... rain or shine!

Event Schedule

Here is the event schedule:

5:00 PM – Event Center opens for registration and beginner clinics
5:30 PM – Maps handed out to each team
5:55 PM – Course setter briefs competitors in parking lot before the mass start
6:00 PMMass start
6:05–6:15 PM – Individual starts for late comers
7:30 PM – Festivities begin (potluck social and Water Play presentation)
7:45 PM – Course closes
8:15 PM – Results announced
9:00 PM – Event ends, building closes

Willow Glen Holiday Lights


Advance registration is strongly encouraged, especially for groups. It will help us better plan for the event if you would use the sign-up form (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScK6-Du7FEC0Y7xaLyuRJ1Zp7f7Zd7W8PbvY8WcNm0R8WpDug/viewform). Thanks.

The course fees will be as follows:

    Member entry fee, first person         Adult $10    Junior $5
    Non-member entry fee, first person     Adult $15    Junior $5
    Each additional person                 Adult $5     Junior $3
    Family or team                         $20 max.

     Notes:  A Junior is defined as anyone age 8 through 20.
             Children under 8 accompanying parents or youth group leaders are free.

This would be a good event to invite your friends, your child's friends, your relatives, your neighbors, house guests, or co-workers to try orienteering. Of course they'll miss the thrill of our steep hills and muddy fields and trails at this event, but you could break them in gradually.

Scout, JROTC, and school groups are welcome of course. Large groups should divide into groups of 5 or fewer to go on their course. Groups of 7 or more, please let us know ahead of time if you are coming so we can be sure to have enough maps.

Course, Map, Rules

When you register, your registration name(s) will be added to a questionnaire that you will use on the course. This ensures that we can match questionnaires to registrations in case anybody is missing later on. A map will be given to each person or team with a questionnaire. Additional maps might be handed out to other team members if the supply of maps will allow for that.

After you start, you will have 60 or 90 minutes to find as many controls marked on the map, in any order. When you finish, indicate whether you were on a 60- or 90-minute course.

The map is at 1:15000 scale with 5-foot contours. There are some interesting street patterns and opportunities for off-street navigation in quite a few of the blocks​​—​some parkland, schools, and passageways are sprinkled about the map.

The course will be a Score-O. Choose your time​​—​60 or 90 minutes​​—​and dash around the Willow Glen neighborhood to discover the answers to as many control questions as you can. Controls will be "environmental", such as:

At house #456, how many reindeer are on the roof?
A – 3           B – 8           C – 9

Most controls are worth 10 points each, but some controls are worth more. Be careful​​—​​if you get an answer wrong, you lose 30 points (don't guess any answers). If you return late, you lose 10 points for each minute or fraction of a minute that you are late (i.e., over the 60- or 90-minute period).

When you arrive at a house marked as a control on your map, verify that you have the right address, which can be found near the front door, on the garage, on the curb, on a mailbox, or on a post near the sidewalk or driveway, and then answer the question for that house (for example, "Who is flying the airplane? A–Santa, B–Grinch, C–Snowman." If the answer is Santa, circle that answer. If you circle two answers by mistake, you must specify which one you believe is correct, or we will mark the question as wrong. If a house is not lit, and you cannot see enough to answer the question, mark a "?" in the "?" column next to the "A" column. If others have done the same as you, you will get credit for that house (we will verify houses with lights turned off).

Points are awarded or deducted as follows:

  10 points per control with two-digit numbers on the map (52 controls)
  30 points per control with three-digit numbers on the map (3 controls)
–10 points for each minute or fraction of a minute that you return late
–30 points for each wrong answer


The forecast is for great running weather in the early evening. Although it might rain in the daytime, there is only a 1% or 2% forecast of rain in the evening. Bring running or walking shoes, hat, pencil or pen, headlamp or flashlight, and whatever else will be comfortable for running or walking in high-50s/low-60s weather. If you have a cell phone, it is good to bring in case of an emergency (event center phone number is on the questionnaire).

We recommend reflective clothing for safety, if you have it. The event center has restrooms where you can change.

Please bring a pencil (preferred) or pen to mark your answers, and bring a headlamp or flashlight​​—​​although Willow Glen is brightly lit in spots, you will need a headlamp or flashlight! Bring a watch or other time-keeping device to make sure you get back on time (keep in mind that there is a penalty for returning late).

Important Comments

Safety is all important. You will be crossing many streets, and car drivers will be looking at holiday decorations, not for runners. Please wear reflective or very light-colored clothing to make it easier for drivers to see you. Always assume that the drivers do not see you, and wait for all cars to go by before crossing a street. Crossing at corners or at marked crosswalks is safest. You have to judge when it is safe to cross, and you take full responsibility for your safety. Never take a chance that puts your life or the lives of others at risk.

You can run alone or go with a team, and the team can include pets if you are in full control of your leashed pet. Teams must stay together​​—​members cannot split up to find controls separately.

Stay off of private property. If a decoration has been blown down, leave it as found​​—​it is best to let the owners take care of their own decorations.

When you finish, be sure to indicate the course that you did​​—​otherwise, the person doing results will decide for you, and that might not work out the best for you. Also, if you marked two answers for the same question, indicate your desired answer to the results person, or the question will be marked wrong (30-point penalty).

Don't forget to stay afterwards for the potluck and results.

Willow Glen Holiday Lights


We could use a few volunteers to help with starts, finishes, and scoring (you'll also be able to run the course). Please contact if you can help.

Potluck Social

Everyone will be hungry after going out on the Light-O course.

If you want to join in on the potluck, we encourage you to bring a dish to share with others. You can make something special, or buy something at a nearby grocery store. What you bring is up to you. We welcome entrees, side dishes, salads, desserts, etc. If you need some ideas of dishes to make, see this site (http://www.midwestliving.com/food/entertaining/40-easy-potluck-recipes/) (thanks goes to Trinka Gillis for this link). Be sure to bring serving utensils needed for your dish.

Please use the sign-up form (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScK6-Du7FEC0Y7xaLyuRJ1Zp7f7Zd7W8PbvY8WcNm0R8WpDug/viewform) to indicate what you'll be bringing. (This is a really easy registration of name, number of maps, and type of food you are planning to bring.) This is not a commitment, and it is not required, but it does help us plan the number of maps to print and the amount of dinner plates, plastic ware, and cups to bring. It also helps others decide what to bring based on what you and others plan to bring. It's okay if you don't decide in advance.

BAOC will be providing the utensils, plates, cups, napkins, and hot and cold drinks. (We'll offer hot tea, and hot and cold cider.) Many of you probably will bring your own utensils, plates, and cups to eliminate waste. (Please note that alcohol is not allowed on the campus.)

We'll have burners/hotplates available if you need to heat up anything for the potluck.

Water Play Presentation

This year's Water Play presentation for the Holiday Lights O' event is shaping up nicely. Here are the intended subjects:

The presentation includes material that 5-year-old children will be able to understand.

Peter Graube, Water Play creator

Driving Directions

The approximate coordinates at the school are 37.3028,-121.8978.

From I-880 or Hwy 17, take I-280 towards downtown San Jose (South/East). Exit at Meridian Ave. South. Proceed 0.9 miles and turn left (east) onto Minnesota Ave. After 0.9 miles, the school will be on the right, at the corner with Lincoln Ave. There is limited parking on the school grounds (enter through a gate shortly before you get to Lincoln), but there is plenty of street parking nearby.

From I-680 or Hwy 101, take I-280 towards downtown San Jose (North/West). Take the Bird Ave exit (it's a long exit​—​follow the signs to Bird Ave). Turn left onto Bird Ave. After 1.2 miles, turn right onto Minnesota Ave. After 0.4 miles you will cross Lincoln Ave, and the school will be on your left. There is limited parking on the school grounds (enter through a gate shortly after crossing Lincoln), but there is plenty of street parking nearby. (Note: These directions were corrected on Dec. 15.)

There's a map here that shows the location of the event. (Drag the map to center San Jose, and then click on the "+" symbol to zoom in.)