For almost half of a century, Grass Valley residents and visitors have strolled the downtown streets to celebrate Cornish Christmas, and the 45th year of that tradition resumes Friday night.
“It was the first big, Christmas-type celebration in the area,” said Julia Jordan, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association, which coordinates Cornish Christmas.
“It’s just tradition,” she said.
Cornish Christmas takes place every Friday for five weeks starting the day after Thanksgiving and on into December.
During the weekly event, Mill and West Main streets are closed to traffic and filled with the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned Christmas, including handcrafters, sweets and delicious food. Downtown shops, restaurants and tasting rooms remain open late for the event.
“People always say they have been coming here forever,” Jordan said. “There are grandparents, who remember coming when they were kids, now taking their grandkids to Cornish Christmas.”
Vendors at the outdoor market in the historic downtown district dress in Cornish attire, celebrating the culture of community’s ties to Cornwall, England, the origins of many of the hard-rock miners who helped establish Grass Valley as the heart of the gold industry dating back to the Gold Rush.
“There is just this feeling of nostalgia,” Jordan said. “If you’ve ever been here when it snows, it is the most amazing.”
While a variety of sights and tastes are prevalent at Cornish Christmas, there is no shortage of sounds, too. Four stages will feature carolers, musicians, magicians and quartets, and the Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir will be appearing each week, as it has for all 45 years, on the steps of The Union building at 6:30 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m.
“They’ve been with us throughout, and that is worthy of showcasing,” Jordan said.
For the second year, Santa Claus will be available for pictures and visits in Santa’s Workshop at 145 Mill Street 5-10 p.m. Fridays.
The gift shop was brought back by popular demand, Jordan said, as a place for families to come for free. The shop offers free kids activities, letters to Santa, face-painting and more, as well as free gift wrapping for your downtown purchases with the showing of a receipt, said Lindy Beatie, a GVDA member.
Santa’s Workshop will also be open Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. until Dec. 23, as well as from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 24.
“A lot of times, people will wait and have their pictures taken here as opposed to going somewhere out of town,” Beatie said. “It’s so exciting.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.