Cornish Christmas begins Friday in Grass Valley
Know & Go
What: Cornish Christmas
When: 6-9 p.m. Fridays (Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 13, 20)
Where: Downtown Grass Valley
Info: http://www.HistoricGrassValley.com; 530-272-8315
If the Etch A Sketches, pogo sticks or snow-covered miniature villages on display at Foothill Mercantile aren’t a dead giveaway, the decorated wreaths and a cheery rendition of “Frosty the Snowman” throughout downtown Grass Valley surely make it clear that Christmas in Nevada County is here.
Cornish Christmas, Grass Valley’s time-honored tradition of celebrating the season and the heritage of the gold miners who essentially built the city, returns to town from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.
According to local historian Bob Wyckoff, the Cornish Christmas tradition began when Grass Valley merchants Johnny George — then owner of Johnny’s Donut Shop, which now houses Old Town Cafe — and Lou Ludel determined that the town needed a Christmas event that would leave a lasting impression.
“For a theme, why not pay tribute to the town’s great Cornish heritage by honoring the sons and daughters of Cornwall (England) by calling it ‘Cornish Christmas?’” Wyckoff wrote in “The Way It Was: Looking back at Nevada County.”
And now, 46 years later, residents and tourists alike continue to turn out in droves for a trip back in time to a traditional Christmas celebration, one with chestnuts roasting on an open fire and carolers ringing in the holiday cheer.
Walking down Mill Street Wednesday, holiday music piped over a PA system set the mood and gave a sneak peek of Friday’s celebration with window displays decked out in the seasonal spirit, such as the paper snowflakes and white icicle lights adorning art work on display at Art Works Gallery.
The Grass Valley Downtown Association’s Adopt-A-Wreath initiative ensured that each streetlight is decorated by a wreath containing the black-and-white-crossed flag of Cornwall, along with a creative twist from each of the merchants making the adoption.
“We had used the same wreaths since 1985,” said GVDA Executive Director Julia Jordan, noting the use of a giant whisk and colander by Tess’ Kitchen Store as part of its wreath.
Once again, as has been a long-standing tradition, white lights will outline the Gold Rush era architecture of downtown. And if those lights seem a bit brighter this year, that’s due to the efforts of Tom Roth, who spent two weeks replacing all 6,000 light bulbs.
Inside Santa’s Workshop Wednesday, workers were putting the finishing touches on a new stage area where the jolly old elf himself will hear the Christmas wishes of hundreds of children. (Parents are welcome to take their own photos, although a photographer will be on hand, as well.)
“Bob Caudle put all the new touches on Santa’s Workshop,” Jordan said. “We’ve got a lot planned this year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Santa’s Workshop, now in its third year of operation at Cornish Christmas, will be open at 145 Mill St., a building donated to house the Claus contingent by owner Bill George, Jordan said.
In addition to sharing their wish lists with Santa, children can enjoy story time with Rose Gardener in front of a faux fireplace, complete craft projects donated by Ben Franklin Crafts or decorate sugar cookies donated by Nana’s Bakery owner Susan Meagher. Hot chocolate, cider and coffee will be available for purchase.
And for those who find just the right present for a friend or loved one at a downtown store or from a Cornish Christmas vendor, free gift-wrapping is available with receipt.
Contact Editor Brian Hamilton via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 477-4249.
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