A Chico Christmas Eve, 1869

From John Bidwell’s diary for 1869:

Sat. December 25.  Christmas – Rained last night with a furious wind – Boys & girls of the town invited and had a high old time –

That “high old time” happened at the Chico Pavilion, in spite of the stormy weather. The Pavilion was on Broadway, between 4th and 5th Streets and across from the Plaza.

On January 1, 1870, the Northern Enterprise reported on the party:

“On Friday night (Christmas Eve), there was a grand rally of the little ones and a larger number of the “old folks” at the Pavilion to celebrate, in an appropriate way, this Christmas occasion. No night of this season, and during our stay in the Sacramento valley for three years, no night of like storm and unpleasantness has occurred. This wind blew a hurricane and the rain fell as if the windows of heaven were open; yet through mud and rain they came until a vast crowd assembled.

Pleasant countenances and the merry laugh gave evidence that all were bent upon enjoyment; and though the wind might howl and the rains pour down, they would be indifferent to all extraneous influence and hold themselves only to the purposes which had drawn them together, and with heart and soul yield to the happy impressions which so per-eminently belong to this occasion. Indeed, we never saw a happier crowd.

Three large trees literally groaning under the weight of presents. It spoke well for the liberality of our people, of kinsman and friend, who, notwithstanding the hardness of the times, went down into the pocket and contributed bounteously to the occasion.

The mirth and jollity, anxiety and eagerness, which prevailed during the distribution from the trees, required to be seen to be fully appreciated. Everything went off pleasantly and we have yet to hear of one dissatisfied person in the whole large assembly. May the same fraternal feeling be at all times cultivated by our citizens.”

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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6 Responses to A Chico Christmas Eve, 1869

  1. Jodie says:

    I wonder who was invited to this celebration? How was it organized to bring and receive a gift. Was this for the entire town? Who attended- upper class, middle, lower class?

    • nancyleek says:

      I think it was for all the children in the town — there weren’t that many. Presents would have been supplied by merchants and the well-to-do, like Bidwell. It would be interesting to know more.

  2. Where did your final Christmas and New Years image come from and what year? It’s wonderful! Merry Christmas to you and thanks for all you do during the year.

  3. Love this Nancy!!!!Merry Christmas to you !!!Randy

    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS

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