Sure, Bakersfield might not have snow, outdoor ice-skating, weather cold enough to require gloves or many of the other hallmarks of a picturesque holiday season, but the most wonderful time of the year here is still pretty good.
But No. 71 out of 100 cities on WalletHub's "Best Places for Christmas Celebrations" list? At first, that seems a little low, but not offensively so compared to other cities on the list. (Orlando is named the best city, with Las Vegas and New York City following in second and third.)
What's truly bothersome is how we rank on the study's subcategories.
The ranking is decided based on factors within the following: Traditions & Fun, Observance, Generosity, Shopping and Costs. Each is worth 20 points.
That first category takes into account a city's amount of Christmas events per capita, Google search interest for "Christmas Celebration," tree farms, restaurants and attractions, among others, as well as the city's rank on the site's "Top 25 Destinations for Christmas" (that one and number of events are weighted heaviest).
Here, we're ranked 71. As members of the Eye Street team have been working as hard as Santa's elves to tell readers all about the many, many Christmas events in town, we find this low ranking a bit insulting. With HolidayLights at CALM, Christmas Town at the Kern County Museum, several holiday plays in local theater, concerts, performances and so, so many brunches with Santa, it sure doesn't seem as if there's nothing to do here to celebrate the season.
The other slight comes in the Generosity category, where we're ranked 98. That's third worst! In years of covering events and fundraisers in town, we've heard time and time again how much of a giving community Bakersfield is. That's the Bakersfield we know.
WalletHub comes to that ranking by taking into consideration the following: food banks per capita, share of income donated to charity, share of population collecting/distributing food and clothes to the needy, online giving and "Christmas Spirit," which comes from the site's "Most Caring Cities" ranking.
The study must have been conducted after the community recently stepped up big time to provide items for the local Toys for Tots after a call to action when the nonprofit announced it would struggle to meet the need following the closure of Toys R Us, previously a major donor for the drive.
The other categories aren't quite as bad: in Observance (based on share of Christian population and churches) we're No. 50; in Shopping (based, basically, on the number and types of stores) we're 77; and in Costs (based on prices of Christmas party tickets, hotels, meals and the like) we're 28.
To compare our overall rank of 71, here's how other California cities rank: San Francisco is sixth, Los Angeles is seventh and San Bernardino is 99th. Fresno is 63rd.
We've got no fight to pick with the fine folks at WalletHub. It's just a study, and it's always interesting to see how we stack up with other cities. But we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.
— Kelly Ardis
Celebrate this weekend
Prove the bean counters wrong by enjoying a packed weekend of holiday fun.
Enjoy Christmas Music on the Celtic Harp with musician Brenda Hunter who will perform from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Blue Oak Coffee Roasting, 1717 20th St.
Call 588-8556 to get on Santa's nice list and enjoy a Christmas Cookie and Wine Pairing Event. The 21-and-over gathering starts at 6 p.m. Thursday at Wine Me Up, 3900 Coffee Road, Suite 2. Cost is $25 and RSVP is required. Music lovers can take in the latest in the free Advent Organ Concert Series, with live organ music, at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1705 17th St.
Christmas Town, offering laser tag, bounce houses, a sledding hill and more, opens daily at 5:30 p.m. through Dec. 31 at Kern County Museum, Pioneer Village, 3801 Chester Ave. Admission is $20. Enjoy "sleigh" hay rides, super slides, corn cannons, crafts and more at Christmas on the Farm. Fun starts daily at 8 a.m. through Jan. 7 at Murray Family Farm, 6700 General Beale Road. Admission ranges from $4.99-$10.99. More details at murrayfamilyfarms.org. Experience more than 3 million lights in the displays at HolidayLights at CALM, which opens at 5:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 5 at the California Living Museum, 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway. Admission ranges from $10-$12. More details at calmzoo.org. Also note that all theses attractions are closed Tuesday (and Christmas Town is also closed Monday).
Over at Stars Theatre Restaurant (1931 Chester Ave.), “An Amy Adams Christmas” rings in the holiday with local celebrity guests at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Tickets are $25-$70, available at 325-6100 or bmtstars.com.
Experience a Christmas pageant like no other in "A Coney Island Christmas," running 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Bakersfield Community Theatre, 2400 S. Chester Ave. Tickets range from $10-$16, available at bctstage.org.
Take a journey with Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol," performed 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Ovation Theatre, 4311 19th St. Tickets range from $30 to $35, available at theovationtheatre.com.
Just in time for the 20th anniversary of "You've Got Mail," take in another tale inspired by the same source material with “She Loves Me," The Empty Space show matches two unlikely lovers at a perfume counter. It runs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the theater, 706 Oak St. Tickets are $10-$60, available at esonline.org.
And for those who don't mind a little off-color humor this holiday season, comedy troupe RAT presents its “Seasonal Offensive Disorder" at 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at The Empty Space, 706 Oak St. Tickets are $5.
Enjoy a Walk Through Bethlehem at Hillcrest Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2801 Bernard St., being held 5 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more on the free event, visit hillcrest.adventistfaith.org/walk-through-bethlehem.
Country singer Ty Herndon promises Christmas Music and Hits for his show at Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame, 2230 Q St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets range from $25 to $30, available by calling 864-1701 or at bakersfieldhalloffame.com.
You've got two days to chow down with ol' St. Nick himself. Brunch with Santa will be held Saturday at both Broken Yolk Cafe locations, 3300 Buena Vista Road. (695-9655) and 7919 E. Brundage Lane (432-7086). The man in red will chat and pose for photos from 9 to 11 a.m. and the dining continues until 1 p.m. Cost is $16.95, $8.95 for children.
Buck Owens' Crystal Palace is hosting a Sunday Brunch with Santa, giving kids that last-minute face time with the Kris Kringle and bottomless champagne and mimosas for the adults. Dining starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. Cost ranges from $10.95-$26.95, and reservations are recommended by calling 328-7560.
Vote for your favorite tree during Christmas at the Depot and 10th annual Christmas Tree Display. The Shafter Depot Museum, 150 Central Valley Highway, opens at 10 a.m.
And although you missed live local performances, take in a screening of the Bolshoi Ballet's presentation of "The Nutcracker." The screening is at 12:55 p.m. Sunday at Edwards Bakersfield Stadium 14, 9000 Ming Ave. Tickets are $18, available at fathomevents.com.
— Stefani Dias