Petaluma lights up for the holidays
The thing about humans is, even when things are not so good, we can often find ways to spark a light in the darkness, whether its a literal light, like a candle or a string of glowing bulbs or a lamp on an empty stage, or something that shines a more metaphorical light, like a story, a ritual, a song or a joke. Maybe that’s why, in spite of the worsening pandemic that has shut down many local businesses and group activities for months, there are still plenty of things to look forward to as the holiday season begins to show its shiny, twinkle-lit face around Petaluma.
Here are a few entertaining examples of socially-distanced, COVID-aware activities planned for this holiday season in Petaluma — and many taking place virtually, all over the web.
When planning any outing , of course, one should check the website of the sponsor, since potential stay-at-home orders could lead to cancellations of some or all of the following events, especially the non-virtual ones. Please be safe, and take care of one another, but let’s not forget to keep those lights shining, one way or another.
CITY OF LIGHTS DRIVING TOUR (Dec. 1-31) - While it’s true that many of us will not be hosting holiday visitors this year, that’s no reason to hide our Christmas lights under a bushel. At this season, especially this year, who couldn’t use the bright-and-beautiful emotional uplift of seeing a gorgeously decorated house bedazzled and bedecked with glowing lights? The Petaluma Visitors Program is again organizing its annual Self-Guided City of Lights Tour, which officially begins on Dec. 1 and will run nightly through Dec. 26. On the VisitPetaluma website, you’ll find a map to local households that will have festooned their glittering exteriors with all manner electric lamp, light, lantern, bulb and beacon, be they incandescent, LED, icicle-style, rope-style, candle-style, retro, micro or mesh, projected, electric or battery-operated. And don’t get us started on what illuminated inflatable characters might be on display, because that list could go on for a page-and-a-half. The list of participating houses currently stands at around 25, and could grow by kick-off time.
SRJC’s ‘WONDERFUL LIFE’ ON YOUTUBE - (Friday and Saturday, 4 and 5. 7:30 p.m.) Consider it an early Christmas present: a new musical adaptation of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Performed by actors in separate spaces using the Zoom format, the show will be streamed live on YouTube for two weekends. Directed by John Shillington, who also wrote the script, this production is a first for the Santa Rosa Junior College’s Theater Arts program, which has dabbled in Zoom productions over the last several months, but has never attempted a musical using the online meeting-based software. A number of Petaluma artists are involved on the management and tech side. "Admission“ fees are in the form of online donations. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit TheatreArts.SantaRosa.edu.
6th STREET’s ‘WONDERFUL LIFE’ AS LIVE RADIO PLAY (Dec. 1 - Jan. 1) - Yes, yet another production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” opens this weekend, this one a non-musical, directed by Petaluma’s Carl Jordan, and performed by a small cast playign 1940’s radio actors telling George Bailey’s story in front of microphones, and with a live “foley artist” creating the soundscape. This one is presented by Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse. It opened last weekend with a live watch-it-while-it-happens performance, which was recorded, and is now available as a pay-per-view show through all of December. For information visit 6thStreetPlayhouse.com.
‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ TO BENEFIT CINNABAR (streaming pay-per-view through Jan. 3) - A one man performance of Dickens’ classic holiday tale was taped in an empty theater in New York City. Every viewing of this extraordinary show — which Argus-Courier theater reviewer Alexa Chipman calls “breathtaking” — benefits Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater. A great holiday activity for the whole family on a cold winter’s night. CinnabarTheater.org.
HOSPICE VIRTUAL COMMUNITY TREE LIGHTING & REMEMBRANCE (Friday, December 4, 6 p.m.) - Light Up a Life is Petaluma’s annual holiday remembrance of loved-ones lost, and this year it’s an online community celebration of treasured memories, held not in the park but onscreen, on the Hospice website. A December tradition for 35 years, the virtual community-wide event will take place from the safety of participant’s homes. The Hospice virtual tree lighting and remembrance ceremony can be viewed live, as it happens, and will then be available for viewing (kind of like a re-run!) through the end of the year. Hospice of Petaluma invites community members to honor their loved one with the “purchase” of a light on one of their trees, which will still be set in public places. Call Hospice at 778-6242 and ask to purchase a light. Each name being honored will be added to the Hospice online and printed Memory Book.