Christmas Parades, The Nutcracker, Carols, Merriment & More!
It’s all happening this weekend!

By JONATHAN WHITAKER
November 30, 2017

The Merced area will come alive with the holiday spirit this weekend as residents enjoy a series of traditional Christmastime events, including parades in Merced and Atwater, an annual performance of The Nutcracker, professional carol music on stage, and egg nog and merriment at the County Courthouse Museum.

• Merced Parade
The biggest attraction, by far, will be 23rd annual Hometown Christmas parade on Saturday, Dec. 2, in Merced. The theme this year is “A Storybook Christmas.”
Thousands of Mercedians and visitors are expected to line both sides of Main Street, between G and O streets, to view the city’s largest parade of the year — complete with marching bands, community floats, dancers, candy, and Santa Claus as the grand finale.
The parade will start promptly at 3 p.m., but the day’s festivities actually begin at 11 a.m. with the annual Jingle Bell Run, craft and food vendors stationed on Canal Street, as well as local singing and dance performers in front of Bob Hart Square on every hour leading up to the parade.
Immediately following the parade, come to Bob Hart Square for the lighting of the MERCO Credit Union Community Christmas tree. There will be complimentary hot chocolate and cookies sponsored by the Merced Breakfast Lions Club, and special performances along with great Christmas melodies!

• Atwater Parade
Atwater’s old-fashioned hometown parade comes a day earlier on Friday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. The theme is “A Christmas Story.”
The parade will start at Winton Way and Grove Avenue, turn left on Broadway, and end at the historic Bloss Home. At the house, Santa will greet children and be available for photos. The city’s Fire Department will provide goodie bags.
The parade will also feature Grand Marshal Joe Castiglione, emcee Roy Torres, lots of floats, marching bands, the fabulous Sheriff’s Posse, and the city’s antique fire truck which will be 100 years old next year.

• The Nutcracker
Also starting Friday night, Dec. 1, 7 p.m., at the Buhach Colony High School Theater, will be the first of three public performances of The Nutcracker by the prestigious Merced Academy of Dance. The annual ballet will also perform twice on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m., and 7 p.m.
Tickets for Reserved Seating are available for $15, $20 and $25. Tickets are available at the office of Karlyne Paul (1807 0 street Merced), the Multicultural Center or at the door. Advanced purchase is recommended for this popular holiday show!
Buhach Colony High School is located at 1800 Buhach Road in Atwater.

• Carols Of Joy
The Merced College Chorale kicks off the holiday season with their holiday choral concert this Friday, Dec. 1. The concert, performed in the Merced College Theater, will bring a variety of seasonal choral music to the audience attending.
“In true Chorale tradition, we bring a broad repertoire to the concert,” says Conductor Curtis Nelson. “For those looking for the traditional, we have ‘Still, Still, Still,’ the traditional German carol, and the well-known ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’ For those looking for something new, composer Mark Hayes’ ‘Winter’s Heart’ is a beautiful musical offering. For those looking for something unusual, we have a soulful version of ‘Lo, How a Rose’ with a saxophone solo or a Southern carol with a bluegrass twist. Plenty of diversity and fun.”
The Merced College Chorale is conducted by Nelson, who is celebrating his 21st year bringing choral concerts to the Merced College stage and accompanied by Philip Smallwood, who also conducts the Merced College Community Chorus, who will be presenting their concert Dec. 15 and 16.
“With multiple concerts each year, I think this must be my 80th choral concert here,” Nelson states. “Over those years, I’ve had the privilege and joy of working with hundreds of college students and community singers.”
In addition to the college-aged Chorale, the stage will also be shared by the El Cap Melodies, the choral ensemble from El Capitan High School. The Melodies are conducted by music teacher, Maria Brouillard.
“I heard the El Cap Melodies sing a couple of weeks ago and I know the audience are in for a real treat,” Nelson says. “Ms. Brouillard, who has just been conducting them for a couple of years, is doing a fabulous job!”
The Merced College Chorale Fall Concert will be presented Friday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. in the Merced College Theater. Tickets are available in advance at Gottschalk’s Music in Merced, at the Merced College Bookstore, and at the Theater Box Office one hour before the concert.
Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. For more information, phone the Theater Box Office – 384-6284 or the Arts Office – 386-6644.

• Courthouse Merriment
And to cap off an incredible holiday weekend, on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the public is invited to experience the 33rd annual Christmas Open House at the Courthouse Museum.
Those curious museum docents have “decked the halls,” and community groups have filled the rooms of the historic building with over 73 Christmas trees.
At the open house, they will serve treats and traditional Courthouse eggnog. Live entertainment will be performed by the following groups (in order): Central Presbyterian Church Handbell Choir (1 p.m.), Merced Shakes’ Bennett and Hicks (1:30 p.m.), Harmony Valley Chorus (2 p.m.), Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School Christmas Choir (2:30 p.m.), Caitlin’s Suzuki Violin Studio (3 p.m.), and Cruikshank Middle School Jazz Band (3:30 p.m.).
The event is free to the public!
The Courthouse Museum is located at 21st and N Streets, in downtown Merced. The Christmas tree exhibit will run through Dec. 30.
Please support your local museum by shopping at the museum store for holiday gifts!

• For More Holiday Fun: See the Times holiday event listings on Page 2!


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