Empire Mine in Grass Valley to host holiday event | TheUnion.com

Empire Mine in Grass Valley to host holiday event

Courtney Ferguson
Special to The Union

Holidays at the Empire Mine are back, scheduled for the two days following Thanksgiving.

"Magical moments with Santa and Mrs. Claus are a major part of the fun," said Event Chair Troy Hammer. "Our volunteers outdo themselves when it comes to lavish decorations that capture the spirit of Christmas past."

Both the 1905 Clubhouse and Empire Cottage will be decked out. Living History docents will be wearing their authentic turn-of-the-century attire, adding a touch of Downton Abbey-style nostalgia.

However, for the children, a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus is the highlight. Many bring lists of all the toys and gift items they're hoping for.

"Santa and Mrs. Claus are amazing," Hammer said. "They've been doing this for years, and they're masters at making every child feel special."

Santa's deep-red outfit is a traditional, European style, much like Father Christmas — and very different from modern, department-store presentations. Sitting next to the Christmas tree near the fireplace, Santa and Mrs. Claus will hear children's wishes. Visitors should know that Santa and Mrs. Claus take a short lunch break early in the afternoon.

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Near the Clubhouse, Ray Ray the Clown and magician Peter Franchino will entertain those waiting to see Santa. Special children's activities are planned under the porch, such as coloring, Lincoln Logs, hobby-horse reindeer, and Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Food, drinks and snacks will also be for sale by local vendors. Roasting chestnuts will be offered on the Clubhouse courtyard.

Docents portraying historic characters (maybe renowned owners Mr. and Mrs. Bourn) will welcome everyone to Empire Cottage, designed by acclaimed San Francisco architect Willis Polk. Live performances by Celtic Joy, Heather MacAdam, Kelly Fleming and Blended Metal Saxophones will add festive music to the mix. Visitors will also receive a complimentary Christmas cookie, served in the old-fashioned kitchen.

One-man band Gary Hinze is scheduled to perform near the mine shaft. Another "must" is a visit to the Blacksmith Shop. With forges blazing and hammers clanging, the blacksmiths are never too busy to explain the important role their predecessors played in Empire's famed prosperity. Many of their hand-crafted wares will be for sale. With its unusual assortment of books on mining, local history, children's stories, jewelry, geological artifacts and souvenirs, visitors are likely to find unusual gifts for all ages and budgets.

"This is an ideal event to share with family and friends," Hammer said. "Besides the yuletide spirit, it's an excellent opportunity for local people to show their pride in our treasured park." Each year around 100,000 people from all over America and all over the world discover gold history at Empire Mine State Historic Park.

This two-day event, the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, is hosted by Empire Mine Park Association, the organization dedicated to helping maintain and enhance the Park since 1976. Everyone's invited, including well-behaved dogs on leashes. Call 530-273-8522 or visit http://www.empiremine.org for more information.

KNOW & GO

What: Holidays at Empire Mine

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Empire Mine State Historic Park, 10791 E. Empire Street in Grass Valley

Cost: $7 ages 17-over, $3 ages 6-16, free for children under 6. Free parking

Information: Call the Visitor Center at 530-273-8522 or visit http://www.empiremine.org

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