Healdsburg is pulling out all the stops for this year’s Holiday Weekend, which kicks off with the Lighting of the Tree on Friday night, Dec. 2, at 6:30. Crews have been decorating the tree all week with lights and ornaments, and it will culminate with the dramatic lighting itself. And, if he arrives in time, Santa has promised to throw the switch.
But that’s just the beginning. The city promises to turn the Plaza into a “winter wonderland,” complete with carriage rides provided by the Kiwanis, complimentary hot chocolate provided by Costeaux French Bakery, family activities, food vendors and live music from Rocio y Su Sonora and the Healdsburg Chorus throughout the weekend.
The carriage rides have been a popular feature of Healdsburg’s past holiday celebrations, as riders in the horse-drawn carriage jingle-jangle ride down Center Street from Matheson to North and back again. A luxe two-horse carriage, frequently used in wine country weddings, will be the vehicle of choice, with capacity for about six inside the enclosed carriage. “We’ll hang a few Christmas things on it to make a nice picture,” said Kiwanis president Denny Stead.
The two-horse “Cinderella” carriage is from The Bridal Path in Santa Rosa, owned by Thomas “Ted” Draper. The team and carriage will arrive at the Plaza in time to start giving rides at 5pm, and continue—aside from a break for the tree lighting—until 8:30pm. Stead said, “We’ll get in as many rides as we possibly can, but there’s going to be a lot of people who are not going to get to ride—I feel bad about that. Maybe next year we can get two teams.”
The Healdsburg Community Chorus will perform from the gazebo stage at 5pm, a week before their annual Christmas Concerts at the Raven on Dec. 10 and 11. Their repertoire includes “Carol of the Bells,” “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” “Season of Light” and other songs of the season.
The chorus was started 34 years ago, in 1987, by director Betty Zukov and pianist Susan Nelson. Zukov retired in 2013 after 25 years of leadership. Its current director is David Martin, and Stephen Riedel is the accompanist.
La Dama de La Cumbia
At 5:45, Rocio y Su Sonoma takes over the stage, taking a break at 6:30 for Santa’s arrival, and the lighting of the tree ceremony. Following that, they’ll pick up the tempo again at 6:45 and continue through the evening until about 8:30.
Rocio La Dama de La Cumbia, as she styles herself, is a popular Los Angeles-based performer who has been singing professionally since 1994, and recording since 1999. Cumbia is a folkloric music and dance with its origins in Colombia; Rocio herself was born in Guatemala.
As well as Costeaux (hot cocoa), other vendors include The Wurst, Rose’s Burgers & Brats, Lola’s Market (popcorn), Healdsburger, California Funnel Cakes, Crêpes du Jour, Corazon Healdsburg (goodie bags) and Healdsburg Kiwanis.
Merry Healdsburg is hosted by the City of Healdsburg Community Services in partnership with the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce.