For the last 35 years, the historic Gold Rush city of Nevada City has hosted Victorian Christmas. It occurs on certain Wednesday and Sunday nights in December. Being in the Sierra Nevada foothills, weather can vary from warm to snowy and anywhere in between. While most of the goods sold are crafty rather than Christmassy, the city does try for a vintage feel, encouraging vendors to dress Victorian while carolers and other musicians provide the sounds of the season. Many restaurants and other vendors sell a variety of foods and there is always mulled wine. Buses bring loads of tourists to wander the streets and buy food, trinkets, crafts, wine or whatever else is for sale
This year I was there, but not to buy anything. I was selling chili in support of the 150 year-old Nevada Theatre. I must admit that chili hardly seems Victorian to me, but the theater is, so I signed up. I did try to appear Victorian, with a top hat and Inverness cape, even if my product was Tex-Mex. It was a chilly night and I did not miss using the homophone to push my product. While waving a sign with “Hot Chili” is not particularly fun, I did enjoy a little banter with the crowd,
“Hot chili,” I would say. “Good for the heart, good for the soul. Guaranteed to improve your sex life. If it doesn’t, came back here tomorrow and tell me.” Of course we all knew I would be far away the next night. I got a lot of laughs and comments, some of which were a bit ribald. All of it was in fun. I must admit, I did not have any of the chili. I try to avoid beef and pork, plus I was with my wife, Kelly. She really doesn’t like chili, so we grabbed a quick, mediocre slice of pizza (the restaurants were packed and we had little time) before reporting for duty. I did, however, partake of a couple of glasses of wine the Nevada Theatre Commission provided to fortify its workers.
I do love Nevada City. With a Fourth of July Parade that feels like it was time-warped from the Music Man and Victorian Christmas, it has a quaint and lovable atmosphere. I love the Nevada Theatre. It has a great history, dating back to 1865 when it was built from used bricks left around after one of many fires of that era. Mark Twain even performed there. However, if I am on the commission long enough, I might suggest something more Victorian than chili. A little goose perhaps?