Holiday Celebrations Provide Healing After Devastating Carr Fire



This past summer, the Shasta County area was ripped apart by the colossal Carr Fire. But the local community surrounding the city of Redding refuse to let the damage dampen their holiday spirits.

A recent data analysis revealed that the Carr Fire, which roared through the region in late July and resulted in eight fatalities, caused an astronomical amount of damage. It’s estimated that the value of single-family homes eradicated by the fire reached $292 million. Another $113.2 million in damages were sustained by over 200 homes throughout the area. All told, the fire has caused $405.1 million in devastation. But according to a Zillow analyst, the cost of rebuilding will be far higher than that already significant tally.

Following both the Carr Fire and the Camp Fire in the Paradise area, California counselors were understandably receiving a number of calls from impacted families struggling with the aftermath. Although the civilian workforce in Shasta County reached 74,500 employees in 2017, there’s still a shortage of construction workers here, making it difficult to rebuild houses. On top of that, many people impacted showed signs of PTSD; therapists said avoiding isolation would be key to recovery. And despite the disheartening financial news from the county, local residents are coming together to celebrate the season.

One Redding family, known for their elaborate holiday decorations, decided to bring the Christmas cheer as soon as they possibly could for the sake of the community. The Munoz family started putting up their lights around Halloween, saying that merriment is needed more than ever this year. They even held an event on December 15 that welcomed everyone in the area to meet Santa Claus, his elves, and even the Grinch while enjoying the splendor.

Earlier this month, visitors flocked to Old Shasta for their annual Old Time Holiday Celebration. The event, which dates back to 1849, typically welcomes around 800 guests every year. Musical performances, arts and crafts, and historic educational activities bring everyone together — a quality that organizers say was especially important this year.

According to Matt Switzer, Officer for Park Ranger Interpretation and Public Information for Whiskeytown National Recreation Area: “It’s really kind of a healing thing. It’s that sense of normalcy that we’ve kind of lost out on for the second half of this year. So I think by having this event it’s been really good for the public in the area to have this one thing to hold onto.”

And then, of course, there’s the 66-foot tall white fir tree that was decked out for this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. With approximately 10,000 LED lights and 900 handcrafted ornaments (which were made by adults and children with developmental disabilities), this year’s tree truly encapsulates the spirit of the season. That’s especially true since it came from the Latour Demonstration State Forest, an area managed by Cal Fire.

So while around 86% of Americans planned to buy presents during the holiday season in 2017, it would seem that Shasta County residents may be more inclined to appreciate what they already have this year than focus on excessive gift-giving. And really, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

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