Take a stroll on the sidewalks of Columbia this month and enjoy old-fashioned, stress-free Christmas celebrations.
Traditional boughs and wreaths are already in place to add a festive look to this historic town.
A Miner's Christmas will be held Saturday and Sunday as well as Dec. 14 and 15.
On these days visitors are invited to sit around the campfire listening to miners entertain them with stories of Christmases past. Sip a hot drink and watch for Father Christmas as he strolls through town looking for good boys and girls.
While chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, children can keep their curious eyes and hands occupied with fun crafts.
The Christmas Equestrian Parade will take place, rain or shine, at 11 a.m. Sunday in Columbia. The Mid-Valley Unit of Back Country Horsemen sponsors this event. Merced County's mounted Sheriff's Posse will be riding in the parade this year.
Prejudging of entries starts at 9 a.m. Unwrapped toys will be collected for the needy children of Tuolumne County. For more information, call (209) 823-3538 or (209) 988-5831.
Las Posadas Nativity Procession will be held Sunday in Columbia. With luminaria lighting the way, characters re-enact Mary and Joseph's entrance into Bethlehem. Spectators can join in singing Christmas carols and holding candles.
The Columbia Chamber of Commerce and its Merry Merchants will extend their hours on Dec. 14. Greet docents dressed in their holiday finery. Bring your camera to take photos with Father Christmas. Freshly made gingerbread and hot chocolate will keep you warm while shopping for Christmas gifts. On this evening shops will remain open until 8. Enjoy carolers and free carriage rides. Or stop by the Columbia House Restaurant to see gingerbread houses on display.
For anyone wishing to enter the gingerbread house contest, the entry deadline is 5 p.m. Judging will take place at 6. There is no charge for this event. Call Carolyn Prindle for details about the contest at (209) 588-9704.
No visit to Columbia is complete without a visit inside Nelson's Columbia Candy Kitchen. It's one of the top 10 sweet shops in America, according to USA Today. Visit www.columbiacandykitchen.com to learn more about its history and products.
And finally, the annual Victorian Christmas Feast at Columbia's City Hotel will be held this weekend and next. In its 30th year, the five-course meal includes fine wines and a show beginning at 6:30each evening. Reservations may be made for today, Saturday and Sunday, and Dec. 14-16. Tickets are $100 each. Formal attire is requested, and period dress is traditional. The hotel has rooms available for lodging, as well. For details, contact the hotel at (209) 532-1479, or go to www.cityhotel.com or www.briggshospitalityllc.com. The invitation and menu may be seen online.
For further information about these events and more in Columbia State Historic Park, call (209) 588-9128 or go to www.columbiacalifornia.com.
Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.