The Grass Valley merchants have come up with a wonderful idea in their Cornish Christmas celebration. Unfortunately, it’s being spoiled by an indifference to a fundamental problem: There’s no place to park.
We spent an hour driving around the narrow streets of Grass Valley before we gave up and went home. Parking is prohibited on most of these streets at all times. The few lots in the downtown area are barely adequate for the average weekend visitation. At Cornish Christmas, they are overwhelmed.
Nevada City faces the same problem with its very similar Dickens Christmas. But they’ve solved it by providing a large parking area away from downtown. The sponsors provide a shuttle bus to and from the parking area for a nominal fee that helps defer the expenses of this necessary service.
But Grass Valley’s leaders apparently can’t be bothered.
There are plenty of privately owned parking lots scattered around downtown Grass Valley that are empty during the hours of Cornish Christmas. We saw at least a hundred unused in the vast Holiday Inn lot. But they all have “public parking prohibited” signs on them. You might think the merchants could get the cooperation of these property owners to make these spaces available. At least they could arrange to assure visitors that their cars won’t be towed while this event is in operation.
But the merchants don’t seem to care.
At a minimum, you might expect that owners of these lots would have the sense to hire some high school students to collect a fee for parking there. But Grass Valley won’t extend even this much accommodation to its guests.
People who want to attend the Cornish Christmas are left with only a few choices. They can reserve a room at a hotel downtown that has its own lot. It’s expensive, but whether you use the room or not, you’ll have a place to park.
Or you can go to Grass Valley at least two hours before Cornish Christmas starts. You could pass the time with an early dinner or just sit in your car, thinking dark thoughts about the local Chamber of Commerce. Or the simplest solution, don’t go.
William Kahrl lives in Newcastle.