Museum lights lamps again
As it has for many years, the Kern County Museum invited visitors to step back in time on Dec. 1 to celebrate the holidays the way it was done during 19th Century. One hundred old-fashioned lanterns lit the way for visitors who attended the 3-8 p.m. event, known as Holiday Lamplight Tours.
“More than 3,000 people attended, and I was really happy to see members of families who have been attending for years now bringing their own families,” said Assistant Director Jeff Nickell. “Our goal for over 20 years has been to help local residents enjoy the holiday season in a fun, exciting way, while teaching them about Kern County history and the Old West.”
New this year and actually pointing the way to the museum’s extensive historic vehicle collection was a refurbished neon light “Entrance” sign that was a familiar welcoming for visitors to the landmark Bakersfield Inn when Union Avenue was the north-south highway for motorists traveling through the central valley.
As visitors followed the Entrance sign on Dec. 1, they passed by the old Sonora Street Gas Station that was festively decorated for the occasion by the Model A Club. The club also brought a large dose of nostalgia to the affair by displaying eight of their personally-owned Model A cars. The turnout around that exhibit and the entire museum vehicle venue was huge, as visitors got glimpses of how transportation has evolved over the years.
Transportation was not just a static display. Visitors were able to pretend they were a part of history as passengers in the horse-drawn carriage or aboard the large hay wagon, that was pulled along by a 1950s International tractor. The construction of the hay wagon was a joint project of the museum and its neighbor, Valley Oaks Charter School. Both are operated by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools.
Old buildings that dot the museum’s landscape must have had many a visitor wondering, “if only these walls could talk.” Among the buildings open and welcoming visitors to come inside were the 1882 Norris one room school house, the 1891 Queen Anne Victorian Howell House, 1868 Barnes Log Cabin and 1892 St. John's Episcopal Mission. Just across the street from the Howell House was an exhibit showing the history of the 1909 J.J. Lopez House. A money-raising effort is underway to move the house from its present location on Rosedale Highway to a permanent spot at the museum. The house was originally built at Chester and California avenues and lived in by Lopez, who made his name in Kern County history as long-time foreman of the Tejon Ranch.
Traveling across the lamp lit museum grounds, visitors came across pirates who had an encampment right next to the Barnes Log Cabin. It was alright, though. These pirates were members of the Kern County Pirate Guild, who dress up for historic occasions such as this merely to provide entertainment and a feeling of history.
Speaking of entertainment, there was plenty of that, no matter where you walked. During various stages of the tour, it was not uncommon to come in contact with the First Presbyterian Church handbell choir, the Kern County Sweet Adelines, Sax Fourth Avenue, country singer George Dickey, the Black Gold Cloggers and the Rio Bravo-Greeley School choir.
Still to come this holiday season at the museum will be the annual “Cookies at the Clock Tower” on Dec. 16 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., a continuing celebration of Clock Tower Holidays. One low price of $5 will admit visitors to see the “Movie Magic” exhibit in the museum’s main gallery, featuring designer-decorated trees and wreaths depicting famous motion pictures. That is not all. The day will also feature storytellers, dancers, music, delicious cookies and hot beverages. There will even be craft classes for an additional $3 and an opportunity drawing with great prizes.Check the museum Web site, http://www.kcmuseum.org or call (661) 852-5000, for more information.
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