After 32 years of holiday decorating at the Merced County Courthouse Museum every December, the historic courthouse has increasingly taken on a woodland feel.
“Our annual Christmas tree exhibit has grown from a small stand of several trees in an exhibit room to a forest with over 74 trees throughout the whole building,” museum Executive Director Sarah Lim said.
The Christmas Open House is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the museum, on the corner of N and 21st streets. The opening day is filled with music and holiday food.
Each tree in the museum is decorated by a different nonprofit organization, church, school or other groups. A number of people were busy setting up their trees Wednesday.
The number of decorated trees in the Merced County Courthouse Museum
A tree decorated by The Haven, a service provider for developmentally delayed adults, featured a superhero theme, according to Liz Dobbins, who works for the Atwater-based company.
The adult clients in the program picked the theme. Dobbins said Haven works with its clients to improve social, relationship and other skills.
“Day-to-day stuff that you and I do … we try to teach them,” the 39-year-old said.
A tree from New Beginnings for Merced County Animals was decorated with cats and dogs, Merced College History Club’s tree was hung with hand-painted ornaments inspired by historical events, and Fremont Charter School’s tree was covered with the faces of kindergartners, to name a few of the groups involved in the project.
Jessica Egli was just getting started on her tree, which represented the Bear Creek Inn, a 5,000-square-foot bed and breakfast. The general manager said the inn’s tree was returning this year after a two-year hiatus. The inn recently changed owners, she said.
“(The tree) is about promotion but also about being part of a fun town event,” the 29-year-old said. “I bring my kids, so I think it’s special.”
Our annual Christmas tree exhibit has grown from a small stand of several trees in an exhibit room to a forest with over 74 trees throughout the whole building. Sarah Lim, Merced County Courthouse Museum executive director
The inn, which has been in Merced since 1936, is popular with UC Merced guests and Yosemite National Park travelers, among others, she said.
A tree on the museum’s top floor, where the historic courtroom sits, will be covered in about 90 clear bulbs carrying the faces of volunteers from the Court Appointed Special Advocates, according to volunteer and tree decorator Debbi Johnston, 42, of Atwater.
The advocates work with foster children to “be a voice for them in court,” she said. “Foster kids, they go through quite a bit of trauma.”
Advocates stay with the children to remain a consistent part of their lives no matter how much they may be shuffled around to different homes, she said.
The exhibit’s opening day will include music from Central Presbyterian Church Handbell Choir, Caitlin’s Suzuki Violin Studio, Women’s Holiday Chorus, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School Christmas Choir, Cruikshank Middle School Jazz Band and a Christmas Sing-Along led by Maxwell Norton.
The museum’s regular hours are 1 to 4 p.m. every Wednesday through Sunday. The exhibit will run through Dec. 30.
Know and go
Open house for Merced County Courthouse Museum Christmas exhibit
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Merced County Courthouse Museum, 21st and N streets