Santa’s coming to town, and he’s hitting up west county, where communities are hosting holiday celebrations worth marking the calendar for. ’Tis the season of community get-togethers, candles, tree-lighting ceremonies, live music, shopping locally for gifts and crossing your fingers for the raffle prizes — and these towns plan to deliver.
Read on for information about events in Forestville, Sebastopol, Guerneville and Occidental, beginning this Sunday, Nov. 28 in Forestville, events in Sebastopol and Guerneville the next week (Dec. 2 to 4), and ending in Occidental (Dec. 11 to 12).
Forestville is ready to get festive
The Forestville Christmas Tree Lighting is upon us from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 28 downtown on Front Street. The event is hosted by the Forestville Chamber of Commerce, announcing on its website that “there will be treats for all, and rumor has it that Santa may pay us a visit!”
If rumors are to be trusted, Santa will arrive at 4 p.m. on a fire truck, to be exact. There will be candy, cookies, hot cider, hot chocolate and hot dogs for revelers, shared chamber board president Wendy Flowers.
Masks will be required. Last year, the chamber lit up its Christmas tree but didn’t hold a gathering because of COVID-19. People are still nervous about meeting in numbers, Flowers said, but she expects quite the turnout with masks and more vaccinations now.
“I think it’s going to be a great turnout this year where people can get together and see each other,” she said, noting folks haven’t seen each other much for the past year or two.
Sebastopol to roll out night of holiday cheer
The Sebastopol Tree Lighting and Holiday Celebration approaches from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2 in the Sebastopol Plaza. Nonprofits will be setting tables up for activities for kids, and the West County High School Jazz Band is set to play for about a half an hour starting around 4:45 p.m,, according to Linda Collins, executive director of the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce.
At about 5 p.m. Collins will give an introduction and thank sponsors before the Sebastopol Ballet School performs. Next, around 5:50 p.m., the Love Choir will sing from., followed by the Peacetown Children’s Choir, Collins said.
A candle-lighting ceremony and then the lighting of a menorah for Hanukkah will take place at around 6:30 p.m.. Mr. Music and Terry Lee Crandall are going to perform “Silent Night” before the mayor speaks at 7 p.m. Collins said Santa Claus will come around in a fire truck at about 7 p.m. for the tree-lighting.
Mr. Music is set to lead a musical sing-along, and there will be cookies, hot cider, hot cocoa and coffee to enjoy throughout the event. Collins said the parking lot around the plaza will close at 3 p.m. so she suggests attendees park elsewhere. The event ends at 8 p.m.
Happy holidays in Guerneville
The ceremonial Guerneville Tree Lighting will take place Friday, Dec. 3 during the town’s Nights of Lights continuing Saturday, Dec. 4 in the Guerneville Plaza by the Russian River Chamber of Commerce. Both festive evenings run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., said Bob Pullum, president of the chamber’s board of directors. Santa will be there, he confirmed.
Folks can enjoy hot chocolate and activities like coloring, decorating ornaments, shopping and more at the event organized by Friends of Stumptown, River Arts and Media and the chamber, per the chamber’s website. Businesses and art galleries are encouraged to stay open late, Pullum said.
Weekend celebration in Occidental
The Annual Holiday Crafts Faire is coming to Occidental the weekend of Dec. 11 and Dec. 12. The free-entry fair will be open mostly inside the Occidental Community Center, with some vendors outside from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 and again on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12.
Over 35 artists from the immediate area and Sonoma County will be selling handmade items, like candles, soaps, ceramics, jewelry, honey, holiday-themed items and more. “Most things are pretty affordable. Really, somebody could find a gift for just about anybody on their list,” said Gino Gaffney, the faire’s coordinator.
Local restaurants and food businesses will donate soup, chili, stew, salad, bread and more for lunch, he said. Students from the local Salmon Creek Middle School are also going to be hosting a baked goods sale.
After the fair ends at 5 p.m. on Saturday, he said the community will gather for a caroling procession starting at 5:15 p.m. School children and choir singers will lead the caroling from the community center to downtown, arriving around 5:30 p.m, he said.
They will be met downtown with a tree lighting ceremony, festive offerings like cider and a toy drive taking donations. Santa Claus will be around from about 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Altamont General Store. Expect snow, since the general store will also be hosting a snow machine, Gaffney said.
Over the weekend, a bucket raffle will offer over a dozen themed buckets filled with items donated by vendors. For example, one bucket may have soaps paired with jewelry, a gift certificate to a local restaurant and a bottle of wine. Attendees can buy raffle tickets and disperse them among the buckets however they’d like, according to the event coordinator.
The drawing will take place around 3 p.m. on Sunday. He said raffle winners can take their prizes right then and there, but attendance isn’t required to receive them because contestants will have provided their contact information.
A choir will also be singing acapella at the crafts fair at 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. On Sunday, a Sonoma County ukulele group will be doing Christmas carols from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. as well.
The volunteer Occidental Community Council is organizing the fair that doubles as a fundraiser for addressing local needs, he said. “So, all of the vendor fees, the money from the raffle, the money from the food sales all goes into one big pot, which we then distribute throughout the year through the town of Occidental.”
This money goes to “unmet needs,” like school programs, health center programs and helping pay for porta-potties since Occidental has no public bathrooms, according to Gaffney. Bicyclists, local farmers market goers and homeless people could all use them, he said.