Last weekend the holiday spirit lit up the Mother Lode, with tree lighting ceremonies, multiple holiday open houses, visits from Santa, and parades happening throughout.

Friday night Murphys held their annual Open House, with Main Street blocked off for pedestrian-only traffic as attendees warmed themselves by firepits between visits to shops, restaurants, and wineries. While there was no parade this year, yummy treats, live music, storytelling, and face-painting kept families entertained.

Arnold held a Winter Wonderland Santa photo and shopping event on Saturday evening, sponsored by the new and improved Greater Arnold Business and Community Association, and Mountain Ranch had a Christmas parade with Santa and warm cider. 

West Point also held its Annual Tree Lighting and Parade of Lights on Saturday, with a lively crowd of onlookers. A crowd favorite in West Point’s parade was a giant rotating peace sign that glowed from the back of a colorfully lit trailer. Hot chocolate, cookies, and Santa rounded out the night.

Copperopolis Town Square was bustling Saturday, as families participated in festive activities like storytime and hot chocolate, live music, a scavenger hunt, and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, before watching the tree lighting ceremony. 

Sunday was the Holiday Open House in Mokelumne Hill, with treats passed out from businesses in town, a live art demonstration at Petroglyphe Gallery, and photos with Santa at the Leger Hotel.

Valley Springs got in on the holiday fun, too, with their Annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting. The parade, which began in 1982, would be in its 39th consecutive year without its Covid cancellation last year. According to organizers, the parade “has been an ongoing tradition for many, many years with the exception of 2020 due to lockdown(s) and restrictions.”

The Valley Springs Business Association puts on the event, and this year, they decided to do two-in-one. The parade lasted over an hour, with festive entries from local area businesses, community service organizations, dance troupes, equestrian and animal groups, car clubs, and community individuals. 

Despite temps in the 50s and persistent fog, hundreds lined Daphne Street in Downtown Valley Springs to watch the parade Saturday morning.

There were ten trophies handed out later that evening, with awards going to the parade entries voted best cheer, theme, car club, community service club, animal group, Holiday Spirit Award, Best of Parade, and several honorable mentions. Best of Parade went to the Time to Dance group, and the Holiday Spirit Award went to Top Hat School of Dance. Calaveras High School varsity cheerleaders won the best cheer, Calaveras High Sportsman Club had the best theme, Tri-Dam Lions Club won best community service club, 4 Horse Ranch won the best animal group, and honorable mentions went to Calaveras Consolidated Fire, Powerup Fitness, and the Calaveras County Fair. 

A tree lighting preceded the awards at a new location in a corner lot at the intersection of Highway 12 and 26. Santa was also there with sleigh and his photographer, so kids could get a picture with him after nibbling on free cookies from Mo’s Devil Foods and hot chocolate provided by the business association. Calaveras Consolidated Fire was also on-site, with a decorated fire truck seen in the morning’s parade. 

For those who missed out on these festive events, there are plenty more to come. This weekend will bring another fun holiday-themed craft fair, West Point’s Third Annual Blue Mountain Boutique, and Angels Camp’s Light Up the Night city-wide holiday decoration challenge. La Contenta Golf Course in Valley Springs is also hosting the Friends of the Calaveras Sheriff's Office (FOCSO) Christmas Party, featuring a prime rib or chicken dinner, professional Santa photos, and a gun raffle drawing. Tickets are $50 via PayPal and can be purchased online. Keep an eye on the Enterprise calendar page for more upcoming events.


Marie-Elena studied creative writing, art, and photography at University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating with a BA in Studio Art -Visual Media. She moved to California from Nebraska in 2019 and is happy to call Calaveras County her home.

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