Chico community celebrates annual Christmas Preview

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Hunter Casperson

Downtown Chico streets filled for the preview.

On the chilly night of Nov. 20, Chico residents crowded the streets of downtown, hugging warm cups of hot cocoa and apple cider as they celebrated Chico’s annual Christmas Preview.

Sweet smells of sugary treats clung to the air while the streets were lit by the soft lighting of Christmas lights. The street lights were wrapped in red and white tinsel made to resemble candy canes. It looked like a Hallmark movie.

“Personally, it’s my favorite night of the year,” Taryn Burns said, a Chico resident and a keyholder for the local clothing store For Elyse.

Downtown Chico is known for hosting events that bring the community together, and this is most apparent in the tradition of Christmas Preview, dating back to 1978.

“I’ve been coming to Christmas Preview since I was a little girl,” 22-year-old Chico local Jessica McBride said. “I look forward to it every year.”

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, the stores of Downtown Chico stay open late and invite customers in to browse their holiday selection and kick off holiday shopping. Many of the stores offer treats like chocolate chip cookies and warm drinks, free for the community to enjoy.

North State Ballet dancers performing at the front of Urban Couture. Photo by Hunter Casperson.

Local theater and dance groups performed at the preview, partnering with stores to dance in their decorated window fronts.

North State Ballet was one of the groups to perform, posing and dancing in extravagant, detailed costumes. One young dancer wore a blush pink tutu with a bedazzled corset top and held a dainty white umbrella detailed in silver glitter designs. Other costumes were circus themed, with black and white pinstripe shirts and rich red jackets with gold buttons on top. The youth dancers lit up the storefront of Urban Couture.

“We love to be out in the community,” owner and Director of NSB Heather Wysong said. “It’s great to give that piece back and make art more accessible.”

Wysong said her kids danced from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. the night of Christmas Preview, which has been the tradition for her dance company for the past eight years.

Santa Claus posing with a baby in the photo area outside of Parkside. Photo by Hunter Casperson.

Santa Claus is also known to make an appearance for a photo op outside of Parkside. In true community fashion, the event is put on by Downtown Chico Business Association, but employees of Liberty Barber Company from across the street dressed up as elves to help out.

Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper dressed up with holiday accessories. Photo by Hunter Casperson.

Further down the street from Santa was KMXI 95.1 on the corner of Main and Third Street. The radio station filled the air with off-pitched, enthusiastic holiday karaoke.

Mark Chase, the program director for the radio station said they’ve been coming out to the preview for over 20 years. “We’re just carrying on the tradition and spreading holiday cheer,” Chase said.

While each corner of Downtown Chico was endowed with a different song, group and smells, the one consistent factor was the warm spirit that the community shared in coming together to enjoy the holiday tradition.

Hunter Casperson can be reached at [email protected]