A gift that keeps on giving: The Christmas Card movie showcases the power of Nevada City community | TheUnion.com

A gift that keeps on giving: The Christmas Card movie showcases the power of Nevada City community

John Orona
Staff Writer

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Screening of ‘The Christmas Card’ movie

WHERE: Nevada City United Methodist Church, 433 Broad St., Nevada City

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday (Nov. 29) and Saturday (Nov. 30)

When U.S. Army Master Sgt. Cody Cullen came to Nevada City he wasn’t looking for love, and while he ultimately ended up with the woman of his dreams, it was Nevada City, its people and its sense of community that he first fell in love with.

That’s the plot of the fictional 2006 Hallmark movie “The Christmas Card,” shot and set in Nevada City, about an Afghanistan war veteran with no family who visits the city over the holidays and becomes enamored with the small town.

It might just be a movie, but to many people in Nevada County, it’s a story they’re familiar with and have a version of their own to tell. To people outside the county, it’s become a reason to visit and revel in the holiday spirit and community feeling that the movie shows off.

Now 13 years after it was released and gained a cult following, the Nevada City United Methodist Church will be airing the movie at the same church where much of it was filmed, complete with commentary and insights from churchgoers who became extras in the movie.

Since the film was first released it has become a big draw for the area. According to church members, people stop by the service weekly to check out the church and compare the scenes they remember to the real thing. Church members Bob and Kay Zuelsdorf and Carl and Colleen Godfrey said people have visited from as far as New Zealand and the church gets regulars who come back from across the states.

“So many people have come to our church,” Colleen Godfrey said. “They even hang out at the church for hours afterward. I thought they might never leave.”

The Nevada City Chamber of Commerce has even created maps and information sheets for visitors to explore locations featured in the movie. Cindy Moon of the chamber said the tourism the movie brings contributes significantly to local businesses, whether they were in the film or not.

According to the extras, the entire production lasted no more than two weeks and with the reputation of Hallmark movies, they didn’t expect the movie to become such a big deal.

“It’s a nice little Hallmark movie,” Carl Godfrey said.

“It’s great for what it is, a heartwarming Christmas story,” said Kay Zuelsdorf.

“It’s not a bad movie; it’s not the greatest,” fellow church member and extra Bruce Bellows said.

While many of the actors were happily surprised by how much the movie has meant to so many throughout the world, the extras had very similar experiences to the movie’s characters and the town’s tourists.

Bellows moved to the area 15 years ago from Southern California after visiting his father-in-law on vacations and weekends since the ’80s, he said he even made friends here long before moving. According to Bellows, he fell in love with the place and decided to retire in Nevada County for its beauty and community.

“Moving here was just like moving home,” Bellows said. “You have many friends here, you just haven’t met them yet.”

The Godfreys have been living in Nevada County for 24 years but Carl first fell in love traveling across Highway 20 more than 60 years ago.

When his children moved to Auburn, he thought it was the perfect time to join his family and reunite with the beauty that captivated him decades ago.

The extras said they don’t think about the movie much but hope the airing will give the county a chance to reflect and enjoy it as a community. And while it may be hard for them to understand why people would travel the world just to visit, the only difference is when the members of the church came to town, they called it their home.

People can watch the film at the Nevada City United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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