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Christmas cheer in Modesto
The McHenry Mansion in downtown Modesto plays host to the annual Dickens Faire from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 1. - photo by Photo Contributed

The City of Modesto will be offering an entire day full of Christmas cheer as the town presents three distinct celebrations on Dec. 1.

The day begins with an early event titled “Breakfast with Santa,” from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Modesto’s Senior Citizens Center, 211 Bodem St. Tickets are $5, and include a full pancake breakfast, complete with eggs, sausage, milk, juice and coffee sponsored by the North Modesto Kiwanis Club and Sunnyside Farms.

 “We’ll have live holiday music performed by Kyle Barker and the Pajama Band, reading with Mrs. Claus, and (the kids) get to take home two crafts. This event is a fundraiser for a scholarship fund called Leisure Bucks. Leisure Bucks is a program for youth recreation, like soccer, art, or any other recreational events,” said Andy Johnson, a Breakfast with Santa volunteer.

For more information on Breakfast with Santa, contact Johnson at 571-5582 or e-mail:

The Dickens Faire and Modesto Certified Farmers’ Market will also present a Victorian Christmas Market from 9  a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 1 at 15th Street, between I  and  J streets, in front of the McHenry Mansion. The mansion personnel, as well as carolers and street vendors will be dressed up for the occasion to reflect Dickens’ classic work, “A Christmas Carol.”

Visitors are encouraged to join in the holiday spirit by wearing top hats, hoop skirts, or even dress like a street urchin. There will be food, choral groups, various craft stations, live music, storytelling, and hayrides. 

Modesto’s Certified Farmers Market will also move their location directly on 16th Street between H and I streets in downtown Modesto.

Because the Mansion is following the traditional sense of the holiday season, prepare younger children for understanding the difference between the American “Santa Claus,” and the traditional figure of Santa in Dickens’ time, suggests organizers.

“There will be Father Christmas in his traditional, Victorian style. Not like regular Santa,” said Marie Uber, a member of the Modesto Certified Farmers’ Market.

The event is scheduled to end just before the Holiday Parade, as both organizations are working in tandem to introduce this year’s “Celebration of Lights.”

For more information about the Dickens Faire, pcontact Sande Nerland at 869-1900.

Beginning at 5:30 pm, Modesto will be hosting the Celebration of Lights Holiday Parade at the corner of 14th and I streets. This year’s festival theme is “Holidays in Whoville: A Tribute to Dr. Seuss,” sponsored by Crystal Creamery.  The route will begin just before the McHenry Museum of Arts and History until it reaches 10th Street, then it will resume towards J Street past the State Theater.

“We’ve always had many entries every year. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, schools, everything. The thing is open to the public, so we try to get a variety of community entries,” said Modesto Recreation coordinator Ashley Bougoukalos .

For more information about the Celebration of Lights Holiday Parade: “Holidays in Whoville: A Tribute to Dr. Seuss, ” visit

— BROOKE BORBA/209 reporter