by Tom Sims
Tom Sims covers the Tower District, Downtown Fresno, and Old Town Clovis in his monthly column Strolling the Town.
We feel these are three areas in this Valley that are filled with history, culture and interesting stories. So join us each month as Tom goes Strolling!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…at least in Old Town Clovis.
It was November 29, 8:30 p.m., and I decided to take a stroll. The lights are already up. They are mostly tasteful and elegant. But they are also quite gaudy in some places, yet strangely compelling and welcome. It seems that the tasteless becomes tasteful when it is associated with the holidays, especially in a place that possesses a Christmas-town-like aura all year round.
The town, now a city, was founded over 100 years ago and named after Clovis Cole, a cowboy. Its town center has been iconic ever since.
Not everyone decorates, but most do. The hardware/appliance store does. The menswear shop outfits an oversized Santa in the latest vintage Santa garb. The local bars get into the spirit with their spirits. The local gambling joint has already started advertising its New Year’s festivities.
It is November. That is far from too early by today’s standards.
Normally, I get a few humbugs crawling over me with early Christmas decorations (spell that S-A-L-E-S), but I am a sucker for Christmas carols and they were playing everywhere in Old Town Saturday night–even though no stores were open.
It turns out, that I am also a bit of a sucker for Christmas lights and decorations.
The thing about Old Town is that it is fairly old. Even the new buildings look old. The Clovis Chamber of Commerce is one of the most active and community-oriented around. The local events are plentiful and personal. The shops are locally owned, the people are friendly, and there is a unity to the décor. The city has a standard set of uniform lights hanging from city-owned structures.
Beyond that, everyone does whatever they like.
The antique shops use antique decorations. The flea market goes eclectic. The clothing shops decorate their windows. The bars hang lights everywhere. One feels comfortingly warm and cozy.
Pretty soon the homeowners will fill in the blanks. The compelling thing about Old Town Clovis is that people actually live in and around there. It is a community where people can walk from their homes to the shops and stroll around, greeting each other. If I did not live nearby, I would visit and stay in one of the local hotels for a writer’s retreat.
But I do live here and so the best I can do is visit one of the many coffee shops or tea houses for a few hours of public seclusion.
Eating establishments are everywhere, which brings me to an observation: one of the most decorated of the shops was the ice cream place.
I am not a photographer, but I took 125 pictures in 25 minutes of walking around.
Did I mention that it was the last weekend in November as I took my stroll? It was the night before Advent. I realize that I was stuck somewhere in a time-warp from about 25 years ago, but it seems a little early and a little warm for this much Christmas spirit. But, as I say, the community itself lends itself to letting the decorations hang year round if they so desire. And some businesses do so.
And then there are the events.
By the time you read this, you will only have a few hours to catch the Clovis Children’s Electric Christmas Parade. Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, it is at 6:30 p.m. tonight. The promotions say that it includes a “display of holiday cheer alive with thousands of local children, adults, animals and floats, all blanketed in a blizzard of lights.” Read more here, or here. Experience says that it will be quite an extravaganza!
On December 8 is the annual city’s Christmas tree lighting. The tree will be ceremonially lit at 6:30 p.m. at Clovis City Hall, 1033 Fifth Street. Santa will show up in a trolley. The mayor will light the tree. There will be Christmas carols and refreshments. No wonder the lights are already up!
Through December 21, every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., there will be carriages starting at the corner of 4th Street and Pollasky Avenue, in front of The Old Hotel Bistro. The 15-minute rides are free.
Santa will be stationed along the route along with the usual opportunities for pictures.
Old Town Clovis Farmers Market is open on Saturday mornings. This is a year-round event starting at 7 a.m. and sure to be full of Christmas themes for the remainder of the year at 521 Pollasky Avenue at Bullard. The Market features up to eight farmers, including certified organic growers! For more information call 559.298.5774 or visit the website.
To keep up with Clovis events year round, like their Facebook page.
It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Old Town Clovis, and I agree that it is probably time!
I’ll see you out strolling. Be sure to say hello if you run in to me.