Celebrating life is also a reason for the season; some events take participants on walks back in time to follow the Christmas story as it unfolds. In Sutter Creek and Columbia, Las Posadas processions are time-honored traditions. The reenactments of the trip Mary and Joseph made on a donkey to Bethlehem are held every year to remind people what Christmas is really about.
“They actually follow Mary and Joseph,” Klosowski says of the crowd at the Las Posadas event in Sutter Creek, which happens at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. “Mary’s on a burro.”
The Sutter Creek procession, with Mary and Joseph in the lead, makes its way from the Immaculate Conception Church on one end of town to the Methodist Church at the other, stopping along the way as Mary and Joseph are turned away from inn after inn. Throughout the walk to the end of the parade, the nativity story of the birth of Christ is retold.
Holiday events at our towns aren’t the only excitement to be found through the season. Sierra Repertory Theatre (at the Fallon House Theatre in Columbia) and the Volcano Theater Company (at the Cobblestone Theater in Volcano) both have holiday productions in store for theatergoers. This year Sierra Repertory produces a retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in a thoroughly Gold Rush way, while the VTC stages “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Many years ago, state officials decided that calling evenings loaded with carols and stories of Christmas weren’t appropriate for schoolchildren, so schools today stage performances of songs and skits with a broader holiday theme. One private school, however, keeps the message intact with a popular performance staged each year.
For the past 25 years, the Christian Family Learning Center outside Angels Camp has treated the community to free performances of an annual Christmas play.
“We feel the privilege and the responsibility to provide the Christmas message to our community,” said Carla Smith, who has been involved in the production of the play since it began.
The production has seen a few changes since it began when a parent at the school, Judy Mattson, offered to direct a performance. There were only 20 students in the school for its first Christmas play in 1990, not even enough to really fill in the choir, so parents filled in a few gaps to round out the show. The production has since grown and even changed venues through the years to accommodate the expansion.
At one time the production was staged at the Angels Camp Theatre, well before the space was converted into a multiscreen cinema. The production then moved to the Calaveras County Fairgrounds. Now the production is presented at the Bret Harte Theater in Angels Camp, where the community clamors for seats at the free shows.
The changes in venues hasn’t diminished the school’s commitment to bringing the message of Christmas to the public over the years. This year’s shows – titled “Free Gift” – are at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 and 1 and 7 p.m. Dec. 12. The shows are free, but reserved tickets are very much encouraged. Call 736-1175 to reserve.
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