Victorian joy in downtown Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE — With a Victorian choir, wagon rides and shops decked to the nines in red and green, Jacksonville's Victorian Christmas is a scene Charles Dickens would be proud of.

The weekend extravaganzas are set to kick off from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2, and will continue the following two weekends during the same times.

If you go

Parade and tree-lighting ceremony: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. Parade will start at Oregon and California streets; tree will be lit at California and Third streets.

Weekend festivities with music, carolers and other events: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 1-16.

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"(It) befits this little historical town," said Terri Gieg, event organizer for the Chamber of Commerce.

"It'll be just like it always is, a winter wonderland."

There will be hot beverages to ward off the cold, wagon rides, youth symphonies and a choir singing classic Christmas carols in the streets.

The classic town crier also will wander about, shouting the news and tagging along for wagon rides, giving local history lessons along the way.

"Long ago when they didn't have radios or anything else to announce, they had a crier," Gieg said. "They would be out on the street corners crying the news."

Attendees also can take in the sights of beautiful decorations and lights that cover the shops.

The town's Christmas tree will once again be raised at the corner of Third and California streets. Gieg said the tree is a donated blue spruce.

"It's really going to be a special, special tree this year," Gieg said. "It's just so big now."

The traditional Christmas parade will start up at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. Three large floats — including one covered with child angels — will be joined by bands, classic cars and vintage fire department equipment as the parade makes its way along California Street, stopping at Fifth Street. The tree-lighting ceremony will follow.

"The town lends itself to a Victorian Christmas, to how it was then," Gieg said. "We have the buildings, we have the look, we've got the stage set. That's the purpose, to give (families) a taste of yesterday."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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