Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lots of Local Jolly

I hadn't planned it. One thing just sort of led to another and before you know it, it was a day full of holiday.

It started midday when I suddenly remembered reading in the newspaper last night about a craft fair that was going on Friday and Saturday at the county fair grounds. I had missed last year's big local holiday craft fair - I was off in San Diego watching my granddaughter come into the world, so that was definitely the better choice - so I was excited to go to a craft show this year. They had a craft show at the fairgrounds over the 4th of July this year and it was a small thing, barely visible from 50 yards away, much less from satellite, so I wasn't sure if this show would be much of anything. I figured I'd go find out for myself.

It turned out to be a rather nice show. It filled three fair buildings. I bought a few small gifts and sampled all those great craft show edibles - nuts, cookies, candy canes, seasoned oils and vinegars, olives. No problem that I hadn't had anything but a cup of coffee.

Another thing they had going was a holiday display contest for local groups and organizations - y'know, Boy Scouts, Cattlemen's Association, 4-H, the Garden Club. I got a kick out of the local flavor of all the displays.

This one was put up by the Indian Casino. Yep, a big pile of firewood, a modern tent, and an old fashioned Christmas tree really represents the Native Americans of this community. Hehe. The firewood though is SO Susanville. When we moved here thirteen winters ago, the large majority of homes and businesses were still heated primarily by wood heat. We only got a gas heater last winter.

And being a ranching area, here we've got Santa on his tractor, about to mow down those pesky elves. They sprout up like dandelions all over the place y'know.

This display was put up by the Lassen Teen Court. You can't tell it but it's all lit up. Yessirree bob, nothing says Christmas like a garland wrapped gavel!

Of course Santa works the rodeo circuit during his off season.

And what doesn't bring back holiday memories like a festive beef garland.

When I was done shopping at the fairgrounds, I decided to go uptown to check out the local arts council Chocolate Festival Event. They've sponsored it for years and I've never managed to make it to one. Since I'm now a member, I figured it would be nice if I at least put in an appearance. There was music.

Everyone there was in the holiday spirit.

But more important than who was there, was WHAT was there. Chocolate!

Lots and lots of it. Five tables of it. For $5 you could buy a plate and sample to your hearts delight OR you could buy a half pound box and fill it to take home with you. I bought two boxes and filled them with chocolate of every kind - dark, milk, white, semi-sweet - combined with everything and anything - nuts, coconut, brittle, more nuts, liquor, fruit, cookies, more nuts.

After I filled my boxes and chatted with friends for a bit, I headed across the street to visit with my friend Shirley the bead shop owner. More and more people passed by on the street outside. It was the evening of the uptown tree lighting holiday kick-off. I've always read about them in the paper but never attended. The shops all stayed open late. There were activities all up and down main street - carolers, dancers, radio hosts coming live from the festivities. Starbucks had a booth set up and gave out free hot cocoa and coffee.

Here's a crowd of people watching the cutest little dancers, kids about kindergarden age, doing a routine to Baby it's Cold Outside. And cold it was. NIPPY. Since I hadn't planned on being out so late, I wasn't at all prepared. Fortunately I had a big coat in the back of the car, and I had my sweater and scarf wrapped tight, but no hat or mittens. All the shops were warm so I kept wandering in and out. Most of the shops also had trays of food and big pots of spiced cider which was nice since I still hadn't sat down for a meal yet all day.

It was a good thing I was having fun because, not knowing there was going to be a parade, I parked on Main Street before they closed it off so I was stuck uptown until they reopened it. After an hour or so of shopping and nibbling and enjoying the crowds, the parade finally came marching up the street. In the dark. Lots of people marching with banners - and it was too dark to read them. Funny, but small town fun was being had by all. Some of the parade entries thought about the whole dark thing and came with their own lighting.

I liked this old fashioned fire truck.

And the Cat in the Hat was bouncing around tilting the tree on this float. Unfortunately my batteries chose mid parade to conk out so I missed taking a photo of the grand finale - Santa on his sleigh pulled by eight tiny..... uhm, actually it was the shape of a giant sleigh done up in lights on the sides of a huge cherry picker, Santa on top. And more strings of light attached it to the eight tiny quad dirt bikes that were "pulling" the cherry picker. Now that's small town redneck decorating at it's finest. The best though was as Santa passed by he called for everyone to come with him to light the tree and the crowd, thousands of people, all streamed off the sidewalks and followed the parade the block or two up to the top of town. I felt like I was an extra in a Disney movie! It gave me big ol' warm fuzzies through and through even out there in the dark and cold.

The crowd counted down and then TADA! Big tree full of lights. You can get a sense of how tall it is if you know that the blue light to the left is on top of a three story building on a hill slightly behind the tree. That's one BIG tree. And no, it's not the one that I saw heading the other way down main street a week ago. This tree grows here year round. In fact there's another one just as large just to the left of that building. I'm about a half block away taking this photo. I didn't know there would be fireworks! I didn't get a shot of the best of it. If you click to open the photo, you can see it better.

After the tree lighting they set up a big chair for Santa in the middle of the street for kids to sit on his lap and there was more singing and dancing and deejays playing music. There were crowds in the street all up and down the block I was parked on so I obviously wasn't going home yet. I went in search of a bathroom and settled in to keep warm at the book store until the crowds thinned and the street was reopened.

The local bookstore sells new books in the front of the store but if you wander back, you find the used book section. The front is tidy but as you can see the back of the shop is all about digging for treasures.

My favorite spot in the whole store is this red velvet chair in the mystery book room.

Eventually every dance troupe in the county had done a routine, including the high school cheerleaders, and some older dancers that did a bizarrely sexy dance to the song Joy to the World, and the frosty nosed people all started to wander away and I was able to jump in my car and do a quick u-turn to go home. Picked up a couple of U-Bake pizzas on the way.

And now William and I are sitting on the couch surrounded by cats and blankets and one teeny chihuahua, watching cheesy holiday specials. And speaking of cheese.... we've eaten pizza. And chocolate. Let's not forget all that chocolate I brought home! We've taken a bite out of almost every piece and there is a surprisingly large number of empty candy wrappers that lead me to believe we might have finished off one or two (or ten?) of them in their entirety. My favorite might be the chili chocolate balls! We may pay for all this gluttony later, but right now life seems pretty darn comfortable.

Oh, and if that's not enough holiday for you, guess what just started coming down!? Yep. Snow flurries. The first of the season. Ho Ho Ho!


Blogger Scarlett said...

Sounds lovely. I love night Christmas Parades the best.

11:01 AM  

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