GUSTINE - The community will usher in the holidays Saturday, Nov. 30, with a full day of Christmas festivities.
The “Old-Fashioned Christmas Downtown” celebration begins with a community breakfast with Santa and continue through the day as activities lead up to the downtown tree-lighting and a lighted parade which will bring the festivities to a colorful conclusion.
In Gustine, the Old-Fashioned Christmas is as deeply ingrained in the Thanksgiving weekend as turkey, family gatherings, Black Friday shopping and football.
The celebration started in the early 1990s as a community breakfast and has since evolved to become a full day of events.
Through the years, the Old-Fashioned Christmas has become one of the community’s many cherished traditions.
In addition to the breakfast, tree-lighting and parade, the day offers fire truck rides, craft vendors, a Santa’s Workshop for children and much more, allowing families gathered for the weekend to make a full day of it in downtown Gustine.
The breakfast with Santa is a popular start to the festive day.
While the Gustine Chamber of Commerce organizes the remainder of the day’s activities, a community group now organizes and serves the breakfast.
The breakfast was started by Mary and Dick Ford, said her granddaughter Chandra Brace, and when the chamber several years ago decided it could no longer organize the event family members and community volunteers stepped in to continue the tradition.
The breakfast is served free of charge, although donations are accepted.
“My grandparents started it as a thank you from the business community,” Brace recalled. “They never charged for the breakfast, even when it started way back when.”
Most of the food items are donated, she said, and monetary donations received the day of the breakfast help cover the remaining expenses.
Last year, about 750 people were served.
Santa will be on hand for photos and Christmas wishes at the breakfast, which is served from 8-11 a.m. at the Gustine Pentecost Society Hall.
When evening rolls around, the lighted parade offers a festive, colorful conclusion to the day.
Started as a lighted truck and tractor parade in recognition of the West Side’s agricultural heritage, the parade has expanded to include entries from the community as a whole.
Parade entries can range from tractors and tanker trucks to horses and floats.
Parade entry is free and open until the day of the event, said Vanessa Rogers, executive director of the chamber. Categories include farm, youth, diesel truck and organization.
Call 854-6975 or 587-0810 for additional information or parade entry.
Craft booth registration is still open as well. Call 854-6975 or 531-3001 for information.
A new addition to the celebration will be a silent Christmas tree auction to benefit the Chamber of Commerce. Nearly two dozen three-foot trees have been decorated by community members or organizations for the auction. The trees will be on display at 394 Fifth St. Silent auction hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Rogers said.
The celebration, she added, “is a great way for families to kick off the Christmas season and for us to come together as a community.”
The schedule of events for the day is as follows.
Breakfast with Santa will be served from 8-11 a.m. in the GPS Hall.
Local children’s author Judy Quinn will host a book-signing at the Gustine Museum from 10 a.m. to noon. She will be signing copies of her latest book, “The Little Frog Who Walked.”
The downtown craft fair starts at 10 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m.
Children are invited to create holiday crafts at a Santa’s Workshop sponsored by Cornerstone Dance. The workshop, located at 367 Fifth St., runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fire truck rides will be offered from 1-3 p.m. Fire trucks depart from the street next to Valley Antique Mall.
The tree-lighting ceremony will be held at 6 p.m., with the lighted holiday parade to follow. Awards will be announced following the parade.