A Local Treasure

Vine StreetAlthough I’ve lived on the central coast for 4 years now, this year was the first time that I attended both the Paso Robles annual Vine Street Victorian Christmas Showcase and the Atascadero Winter Wonderland. I didn’t even know the latter existed until about fifteen minutes before I went.

The Atascadero Winter wonderland was last Friday evening. The event was what I expected from a small town event. It reminded me a lot of the Thursday evening Farmers Market in San Luis Obispo except that there was maybe a thousand people and most of them were children. There were loads of street vendors and fund raising groups with the occasional carolers, and of course Santa Clause. The highlight of the Winter Wonderland was the snow manufactured from 180 crushed ice blocks. There were three snow locations downtown, 2 were for snow ball fights and the third was set up on a hill for sledding! This was by far the most interesting thing at the event to watch.

The Vine Street Showcase, last Saturday night, is one of those local secrets that everyone loves but doesn’t want anyone else to go to. With thousands of people milling about between 8th and 22nd streets Vine street becomes a pedestrian traffic jam with people listening to dozens of live bands, choirs, and soloists, getting free cotton candy, candy canes, and pony rides. The entertainment and activities are great but if there were just a few less people it would be a lot easier to get around and a bit harder to loose the people you came with. Crystal and I went to Vine St. with my parents and her sister and brother-in-law. We lost them all after about 20 minutes and next year I think we are all going to wear flashing lights on our heads or carry walkie-talkies. We’re over 18 so we could take care of ourselves and we had a great time.

Some of the highlights of the Vine Street Showcase were:
– the Atascadero High School Marching Band parading down the middle of the street bulldozing anyone in there way,
– the Latter-Day Saint Church giving out FREE Christmas DVD’s and Videos (I’m biased on this one),
Athena (a very beautiful solo voice),
– the group of 20-30 belly dancers,
– a silent stage featuring portions of The Nutcracker,
– “The Singing Hands” (a group of signing children who were also at the Winter Wonderland the previous night),
– the “antique doll house
– and of course the one house everyone loves to hate, the “Home of Ebenezer Scrooge”!

There were many more great attractions and I could probably write a story on each one of these but I’ll just say that everything was amazing. If you aren’t in the holiday spirit before these two huge events then you will definitely be after words. I just want to thank all those who volunteer to make these local events such a success, we all appreciate it.