A synthetic ice skating rink, appearances by Santa Claus, electric lights on 85 trees downtown, wreaths and lights on the city’s downtown electroliers, and a large, lighted Christmas tree are all part of St. Helena’s Christmas vibe this season.
All of Main Street is expected to be decorated and lighted by Wednesday, Nov. 21.
The City of St. Helena and the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce started working with local residents in January to plan this year’s Christmas events, said Chamber President/CEO Amy Carabba. In discussing plans, Carabba said the Glice ice skating rink will be 40 feet by 40 feet and will be in front of the gazebo at Lyman Park. She calls Glice an environmentally friendly option for ice skating and just as fun as a real ice rink. It’s rented from All Year Sports Galaxy. “We wanted to bring an event to the city and we couldn’t afford real ice, because it is expensive,” she said.
The ice rink will be open Thursdays through Sundays from Dec. 1 to Dec. 28. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Along with hot chocolate and hot toddies, which are perfect for the holiday season, different wineries will be pouring each day and different food trucks will serve food.
A variety of activities are planned throughout the month, including a performance by a professional ice skater on Dec. 2, a 6 p.m. performance by Vocal Color on Dec. 6, Christmas karaoke from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 13, the Annual St. Helena Caroling Jubilee at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and Snow Night on Dec. 22, along with Santa Claus from noon to 4 p.m. A complete schedule is on the sthelena.com Chamber website.
The holiday season in St. Helena kicks off with a Lighted Holiday Bike Ride at 5:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, sponsored by St. Helena Cyclery. The ride starts at the corner of Main and Spring streets and winds through neighborhoods, ending at the Carnegie Building at 6 p.m., before Santa Claus’ arrival. Riders must wear helmets and have front and rear lights on their bikes. An additional lighted bike ride is planned for Tuesday, Dec. 18, which is a great way to see St. Helena homes decorated for the holidays.
At 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, the city’s Parks & Recreation Department staff will gather outside at the Carnegie Building to wait for Santa Claus, who will help light the city’s Christmas tree, donated by Central Valley Builders Supply. Afterwards, an open house will be held inside the Carnegie Building, including visits with Santa, holiday cookie decorating, family photos and reindeer games. Cliff Family Winery will pour wines and serve small bites.
Santa Claus will make additional appearances at the Chamber office from noon to 4 p.m. on the first three Saturdays in December. Additionally, Carabba is working with the Boys & Girls Club of St. Helena to offer free gift wrapping for donations through the season, although a location has not yet been determined.
“I think we want everyone to come out and skate,” Carabba said. “Prices are really low and we kept it that way, $10 for adults and $5 for kids, so that everyone would have an opportunity to skate,” she said. You can either go to the Chamber’s website to sign up or just show up and buy tickets at Lyman Park. It’s first-come, first-served and skates are provided for no extra charge.