All month, foothills communities celebrate the season in traditional and sometimes unique ways.
Here are some of the ways they get, keep and demonstrate the holiday spirit in Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties:
• On Sunday Columbia’s Christmas Equestrian Parade takes place downtown from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The parade is sponsored by the Mid-Valley Unit of Back Country Horsemen of California (BCHC). This nonprofit organization serves its neighbors by clearing trails, cleaning up camps and introducing young people to the privileges and responsibilities of conserving back-country wilderness. The website iswww.bchcmidvalley.org
• As part of Columbia College’s Jazz Artist Series, “It’s a Big Band Christmas” will be presented at 2 p.m. Sunday. The 25-piece college big band, the vocal jazz quartet, the jazzy caroling group, and guest artists Bob Secor, Ken Taylor and Mario Flores will join director Rod Harris for the holiday concert.
Tickets are available at the Mountain Bookshop in Sonora and the college bookstore. The concert will be held in the Dogwood Theater on campus. Call (209) 588-5126 for details.
• The Los Posadas Nativity Procession begins at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Columbia State Historic Park. Luminarias along Main Street will light the way for the traditional Spanish reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem.
Members of the Harry Wright family of Columbia started the procession 31 years ago, and have served as directors of the event the entire time. A few individuals portrayed the biblical characters for most of the processions during the three decades.
Also that evening, the Mirth and Glee Carolers will provide music. Visitors are invited to participate in singing Christmas carols by candlelight.
• “Songs of the Season,” an annual performance of Sierra Repertory Theatre, is at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Hosted by Scot Viets, the group’s artistic director, cast members from recent productions will serenade the audience with holiday classics, as well as musical scores from next year’s shows.
The 2014 season will include “Les Misérables,” “A Second Helping: The Church Basement Ladies Sequel,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Putnam County 25th Annual Spelling Bee.” A complimentary dessert and champagne reception with the performers will be held after the show. For more information, call (209) 532-3120 or visit www.sierrarep.org.
• Relax around the campfire for A Miner’s Christmas in Columbia on Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 21-22. With a hot cup of coffee or cider in hand, listen to gold miners reminisce of days gone by, taking you back almost 150 years. This event is held from noon to 3 p.m. each day.
Father Christmas plans to stroll through town, keeping his eyes open for good boys and girls. Children can make period crafts with docents inside the museum. For more information, call (209) 588-9128.
• The Merry Merchants and Columbia Chamber of Commerce will sponsor an evening of old-fashioned holiday shopping on Dec. 13. Shop owners will extend their hours open, from 5 to 8 p.m. The historic park will be decorated with traditional boughs and wreaths, and docents will wear their finest period costumes.
• At the Tibbets House, Father Christmas will pose for photos with visitors, so don’t forget your camera. Free carriage rides will be available in town.
Enjoy traditional holiday treats while browsing in the charming shops. For details about Columbia events, visit http://www.visitcolumbiacalifornia.com or call (209) 536-1672.
• In the Lushmeadows area of Mariposa, the Kiwanis Hayride will roll through the hills on Dec. 21 from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 21. Dress warmly and meet at the Triangle Market at 3125 Triangle Road.
Hot dog and marshmallow roasting over a bonfire, plus a visit by Santa will amuse the kids. Lawson Construction’s custom-built playhouse will be raffled; proceeds to benefit CASA of Mariposa.
For details about other Christmas activities in Mariposa, visit www.mariposachamber.org or call (209) 966-2456.