DECORATION The 2022 Healdsburg Tree, following its lighting celebration at Merry Healdsburg. This year’s tree lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, Dec. 1.

A relatively new tradition continues this Friday with the third annual Merry Healdsburg party at the Plaza, an occasion to celebrate the winter season, shop for local gifts, enjoy the company of neighbors and witness the Lighting of the Tree.

“Bring the whole family to enjoy a winter wonderland downtown with carriage rides, live holiday music, complimentary photos with Santa, and much more,” encourages the city on its own website. “Watch as we light up the Plaza to celebrate this joyous season!”

TREE TRIMMERS City parks staff works on decorating the 42-foot white fir that will be illuminated on Friday, Dec. 1, at the city’s Merry Healdsburg party in the Plaza. (Photo by Rick Tang)

It’s billed as a family-friendly holiday event, and how could it not be? With sponsorship and support by Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce, live music by a trio called the Sugarplums and an extended visit by the Big Guy himself, the Friday night lighting could rival the Plaza’s other big events this past year, such as Dia de Muertos and the Climate Fest.

The Plaza will be decked out for the holidays, and celebrants are expected to gather about 6pm. The cornerstone event, the Tree Lighting ceremony itself, is scheduled for 6:30pm. Santa will stick around for complimentary photos with the kids until 8:30pm, while a horse-drawn carriage bedecked with colorful lights will circle the plaza throughout, offering complimentary rides.

Bike Parade

Before the Plaza party starts, however, a parade of another sort will circle around town not with sleigh bells or horse’s hooves but with two-wheelers and a community bike ride organized by Move! Healdsburg. This new citizens group, a spin-off of the Climate Action Healdsburg group with engagement by Healdsburg Cycle, the Healdsburg Running Company and others, is building momentum for a bike-safe Healdsburg through what they hope are monthly community rides.

READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS Santa Claus will be in Healdsburg on Friday, Dec. 1, for the Merry Healdsburg tree lighting ceremony. Let’s get it lit for Christmas!

Bicyclists are asked to meet at 4pm at Old Roma Station, 57 Front St., for a three-mile route through low-traffic city streets and past the Healdsburg Plaza, where Merry Healdsburg will be getting underway. Riders can end their route there or return with the group to Old Roma Station. Helmets are required (a few will be available for lending) and lighted bikes and festive attire are encouraged.

Holiday Market

The Friday Night event will also be the site of a new Holiday Night Market, in conjunction with Healdsburg Farmers Market. More than 50 vendors, including many food vendors and creative merchants of packaged foods, gifts, handmade crafts and more, will be set up at the Healdsburg Plaza from 4-9:30pm.

The market will fill both Matheson and Plaza streets around the Plaza park. Many familiar faces from the Saturday Farmers Market have signed up, joined by local restaurants, shops and merchants, craft food vendors and community groups.

The lighting of the tree itself is scheduled for 6:30pm, with a host of local celebrities and Santa himself throwing the switch. The tree, a 42-foot white fir from southern Oregon, has undergone decoration for much of the week with 4,000 lights and 500 ornaments.

MUSICAL TRIO The Sugarplums will sing, dance and project the holiday season at the Merry Healdsburg event on Friday, Dec. 1.

Other family activities are planned, and what Plaza party would be complete without live music? This year the Sugarplums, winners of the national Christmas Caroler Challenge competition on The CW network, take the stage.

The Sugarplums perform a repertoire of holiday hits, from the Drifters’ version of “White Christmas” to a Michael Bublé-style “Jingle Bells.” Sporting a retro flair and colorful choreography, their harmonies are said to be so sweet “they may give you a toothache!” Be forewarned.

Street Closures

Because of the lengthy duration of the event, street closures will affect the circum-Plaza area from noon on. Both Plaza and Matheson streets, between Healdsburg Avenue and Center Street, will be closed from noon to 11pm to accommodate setup and take-down of the Holiday Market.

That area will expand for the main event hours from 4-9:30pm to include Plaza Street between Center and East streets, and Center Street between Matheson and North.

Merry Healdsburg is hosted by the City of Healdsburg in collaboration with the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce, with a special thank you to Stay Healdsburg for its generous sponsorship. For more info, please visit https://healdsburg.gov/1066/Merry-Healdsburg.

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2012, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.

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