A very Victorian Christmas

Jacksonville will again celebrate the holidays "the way our grandparents did" with its annual Victorian Christmas, three weekends of shopping, carolers, music and festivities that get under way the first weekend in December.

The 24th annual celebration, sponsored by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, launches with a parade and tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3. The parade will move down California Street to Fourth Street.

Parade participants will include the South Medford and North Medford high school marching bands, Ashland Brass, bagpipers, flag carriers, vintage cars and tractors, llamas and alpacas, miniature horses, Cub Scouts, Boy and Girl Scouts, trolleys, armed services and service club members — and people dressed in Victorian costumes.

Events continue from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19. Look for Father Christmas, wagon rides, the Town Crier and carolers, as well as roasted chestnuts and hot apple cider. The downtown area again will be adorned with fresh garlands and outlined in tiny white lights.

Live entertainment is set for 1 p.m. each weekend at various locations. The South Medford High School Ensemble will perform Dec. 4 at Oregon and California streets. The Alphorns will perform Dec. 5 in the foyer of U.S. Bank, Third and California streets. Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon will perform Dec. 11 at Third and California. Blank Notes, a group of sixth-graders from Jacksonville Elementary, will perform Dec. 18, and Ashland Brass will perform Dec. 19 at Oregon and California.

"As the time draws near, there will undoubtedly be more surprises to enjoy," says Terri Gieg, former chamber president who's coordinated the Jacksonville Victorian Christmas for the past 14 years.

The celebration dates back to 1988, when several merchants and residents met to plan a special holiday activity for the town. The idea was to create an old-fashioned atmosphere of Christmas geared toward families and children. Buildings were to be decorated with lights and garlands to depict a Victorian theme.

"Thirty-two of the town's merchants funded the activities, and the Chamber of Commerce worked with the townspeople to produce Victorian Christmas in Jacksonville," reads a sponsoring committee's history of the project. "The event was the only one of its kind in Southern Oregon and the response was wonderful."

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