Just like Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Healdsburg has witnessed Christmases of the past, present and future. The centerpiece of Christmas Present is the majestic, bejeweled and lighted tree erected in the Plaza by the city and the tourism improvement district. It is a stunning addition to the town’s bustling crosswalks. Healdsburg’s Christmas Future will be the one celebrated without masks and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. And, Healdsburg’s Christmases Past hold many tales of earlier spirits, cherished memories and a few episodes almost lost to history.
This year’s Plaza tree is a true holiday highlight, but does anyone remember Healdsburg’s holiday time flying elves? Before wine tasting rooms, restaurants and inns ringed the Plaza, the local holiday decorating and event budget was fairly meager. A generation ago, the fledgling downtown business association tried to compete with well-funded destinations like Coddingtown, Montgomery Village and the new Santa Rosa Mall. Out of this David versus Goliath tale was born the idea for Healdsburg to be the selected location for two of Santa’s elves to parachute onto the town’s green. Big plans were made and promotions were prepared for radio, TV and newspapers. Healdsburg — not yet discovered as a Wine Country capital — would earn a star on the Bay Area map. Except the elves never landed.
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