The Holidays in Bandon

Bandon is a small town, but certainly not a sleepy one, and this holiday season is proof. Saturday was a busy day for our fair town and included an artist reception, a nog walk/cider stroll, the annual Lighted Christmas Parade, and the opening night of The Nutcracker.

The afternoon got started with a reception for artist Sunny Kudo at the Art-By-The-Sea art gallery from 3:30 to 7, and they saw a near steady stream of people in and out of the gallery. Sunny is best known for her work with gourds and wood carvings, most featuring land and sea animals and recently was awarded the People’s Choice award at the Coos Art Museum. Many other gallery members also had work exhibited and for sale for under $30, perfect for holiday gifts. The gallery provided a variety of delicious refreshments, and the South Coast Ukulele Players entertained visitors with Christmas music. Located in Old Town, Art-By-The-Sea Gallery is an artist cooperative and is a place for Bandon’s talent to create, feature, and sell their art. They also offer year-round classes.

Also beginning at 3:30 was the annual Nog Walk/Cider Stroll in Old Town. Wine glasses for sampling were available for purchase, and 17 businesses were pouring cider, wine, egg nog, and even rum. Many businesses also had special sales and deals happening for the special evening. Folks were encouraged to check out the window displays and lights on their stroll and then vote for their favorite. The streets and shops were busy with people shopping, strolling, and sipping, and the festive atmosphere was fueled by the South Coast Community Choir who sang our favorite Christmas carols.

5:30 saw the start of the Lighted Christmas Parade, and although it was brief, it was entertaining. Santa and Mrs. Claus were featured, but not as we usually see them. The couple was seen in the back of a Bandon City Police car, and Santa was also seen in a separate grim display, flattened on the grill of a semi-truck cab. A lone but colorful bicycle wove through the street, “representing all seniors.” All the entrants were true to the theme and were brightly lit by strings of Christmas lights.

After the parade, there was time for more shopping before heading to the opening night of MarLo Dance Studio’s semi-annual production of the Christmas favorite, “The Nutcracker” at the Sprague Theater. It’s a highly anticipated event, and the theater full of patrons was not disappointed. The dance studio teaches all levels of a wide variety of dance styles and put on one or two shows a year. The shows are much more than recitals, however. With its elaborately crafted scenery and costumes and the incredible talent in its dancers, “The Nutcracker” feels much more like a major theater event. Teenagers Elli Schulz and Isaac Wright danced the parts of Clara and The Boy/Prince and not only danced wonderfully but showed their acting talent through the portrayal of their characters. The two shows of opening weekend featured MarLo alum Brooke Crawford, now dancing with Willamette Apprentice Ballet, as the Sugarplum Fairy. Fellow WAB dancer Jean Paul Morton accompanied her as Cavalier. All of the dancers, from the preschoolers to the adults, delighted and awed the audience.

MarLo’s production of “The Nutcracker” cannot be summarized in a paragraph; it must be experienced first hand. Fortunately, there is one more weekend to enjoy it. Performances are at 7:00 at the Sprague Theater Saturday the 17th and at 2:00 on Sunday the 18th. Tickets are available on the website and at the door, but considering the crowd on opening night, purchasing tickets ahead of time would be wise.

The holiday fun continues next week with Santa’s appearance at the Old Town Marketplace on Saturday and the last market of the year. Light sculptures along the boardwalk as well as lights and window displays on Old Town businesses will continue to be displayed for the rest of the season, and for a grander light display, the Shore Acres Holiday Light Display continues through New Year’s Eve. The holiday mood is catchy, so if you prefer a “bah humbug” kind of mood, it’s best to avoid Old Town for the time being.

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