It was truly Christmas on the Comstock in Virginia City on Saturday as snowflakes danced in a biting wind from the west. Gray clouds tumbled over the Sierra and hung low over Mount Davidson, but the weather didn't stop the festivities.
C Street's boardwalks were bustling as hearty souls from Carson City, Reno and Douglas County ducked into C Street stores for protection from the cold.
Santa greeted passers-by from the parking lot near Grandma's Fudge and the Crystal Bar had the perfect tree in its store-front window. The bells of St. Mary's tolled. A small herd of deer watched the commotion from B Street and the house was packed at Piper's Opera House for the "Nutcracker" ballet.
Reno resident Betty Waltenspiel brought her two grandchildren and at intermission praised the performance.
"The kids are so cute," she said. "I've seen the 'Nutcracker' before, but with the children performing, the production has a whole different feel."
Piper's Board member and producer Malcom Hunt said this performance is an original, choreographed by Nevada Ballet's Society's Carolyn Oliver.
"She's one of the most talented choreographers I know," he said. "She doesn't get the little ones in over their heads, but the dancing is difficult enough to challenge the older ones."
Reno resident Lee Grasseschi said he comes up to Piper's every chance he gets because he loves the old theater, but he also likes watching the children perform.
"They're enthusiastic, they're having a lot of fun and that's great," he said. "A performance like this is a nice break from professional productions."
All proceeds from the show's three performances go to the restoration of Piper's and the First Presbyterian Church.
Following the afternoon performance, there was plenty of time to peruse the Fire Department Craft Fair at Virginia City's Fire Station before the Parade of Lights at 5 p.m.
Fire Station One was filled with crafters, everything from bead work to gourmet dog treats and it was all for a good cause: the 68th annual Children's Christmas Party. Scheduled for Dec. 18, the party is for all Storey County children, newborns through the fourth grade.
As the craft fair came to a close on the north end of C Street, those entered in the parade gathered near the Fourth Ward School. The Storey County Fire Engine was decked out in lights, the Delta Saloon had its own float and people from near and far, about 23 entries in all, lined up in a stiff winter wind.
The Grandma's Fudge elf house blew off its perch on a truck bed, but the elves forged bravely on, a large basket of popcorn ball treats ready for children along the route.
Storey County Public Librarian Lucy Beullen, dressed like "Winnie the Pooh" and accompanied by a host of "Pooh" characters, stumped for her cause from the back of a large and well-lit truck.
"Storey is the only county without a stand-alone county library," she said. "We want our own library."
To aid the cause, the group conducted their own raffle, the prize was an "Eeyore." Joe Curtis, owner of Virginia City's Mark Twain Book Store, contributed another prize, a book called "Comstock Lode."
For those who survived the chill, the E.L. Weigand Great Room upstairs at the Fourth Ward School was warmed up and ready, the hors d'ouevres lined up and the candles burning for the school wine tasting, which included wines from Tahoe Ridge, Stonestreet and Jewell.