Christmas at the Mission, Dec. 9, 2017


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City and valley residents turned out to celebrate Christmas at the Mission festivities on December 9. Under the glow of twinkling Plaza lights people lined up to follow Joseph and Mary into the Mission for the traditional candlelight singing of carols. Others headed for the Blue Wing Inn, which had been transformed back to the mid-1800s with barmaids serving (soft) drinks, “Doctor” Troy Dunham ready to tell you about the pills, potions and lotions in his medicine chest, and with “Sheriff” Alex Coburn maintaining order.  Children enjoyed the spicy aroma as they poked cloves into mandarin oranges to make faces and designs, and kids lined up to stamp their name into a leather patch. 

The Victorian Christmas Crafts tables filled the A/V room at the Barracks, barely leaving room for Santa, aka Bob Cuff, to find out who had been naughty or nice this past year. The littlest one to sit on his lap was two-month old Elias Sandbach, the newest addition to the Sandbach clan. After browsing the Gift Store and sampling the cookies offered in the alleyway,  people entered the courtyard to sit around the campfire and join in the singing of Christmas carols under the enthusiastic leadership of Dave Duplantier. After your eyes adjusted to the darkness you could make out a couple of large animals: Marcelo and Beverly, camel and donkey, respectively, tended by members of the Lyon family. The Lyon Ranch provides therapy animals and these were the sweetest, most gentle creatures. Marcelo is only 9 months old but already weighs 450 pounds and is very huggable. 

The evening would not be complete without the old fashioned harmonies of the Pickle Creek Band at the Toscano Hotel. The overflow audience filled the chairs and stood in the entryway to enjoy these perennial favorites. 

Park staff, docents, SPParks members and other volunteers did a wonderful job organizing and running all these events without a hitch and to the great enjoyment of participants, young and old. It was a particular challenge this year in the wake of the terrible fires of October that caused park closures, rescheduling of events and personal losses. A salute to all those who made this festive evening possible.  

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