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Cold nips at noses
By LISA BRITTON
Of the Baker City Herald
Chestnuts roasting over an open ...
On a cookie sheet?
"I wish I knew what they're supposed to taste like," says Terry Davis as he cracks open the blackened hull of a steaming chestnut. "They seem to be best if they're just charred a bit."
On Saturday night, Davis helped bring a little flavor to downtown Baker City during the Victorian Christmas celebration as he roasted chestnuts on an antique forge belonging to Mel Cross.
The forge traditionally used coal as a heat source, and every so often Davis turned a hand crank, spinning a fan that pushed air up through the glowing briquettes.
"You don't actually need this" with modern briquettes, Davis says, but "coal needed air."
Most passersby warily eyed the baking nuts.
"Are those chestnuts? I've heard that song, but never seen them. So, they taste roasted, huh?" asked Nancy Haidle of Ontario.
She and her husband, Ron, arrived in Baker City Saturday morning to take in the weekend of Victorian-themed activities.
"We always hear about it after it's over," she said.
The Haidles learned about the Victorian weekend in September when they were in town for the Elkhorn Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
"What we really came for is the Victorian home tour," Nancy said. "We always hear about it after it's over."
Down the street from the roasting station was Deb Singer, decked out in a fancy hat and dress.
Though she didn't give any walking tours of downtown she said most of the action was at the Festival of Trees at the Oregon Trail Regional Museum by Saturday night she'd talked to quite a few visitors.
"That's what we want people to come from out of town," she said.
Singer is the president of the Baker County Ambassadors, one of the groups that worked with Historic Baker City Inc. and Baker County Unlimited to plan the weekend.
In addition to offering tours of the town, Singer helped her two children, Cody, 11, and Shannon, 12, sell mistletoe on Main Street.
"We talk about business all the time I'm an economist. So they have their own business," said Singer, who works at the Employment Department.
While spending the Thanksgiving holiday in California, the Singers traveled to Tehachapi to gather the mistletoe.
"Cody climbed the oak tree and pulled it down," Deb Singer said.
Then they packaged the greenery and brought it back to Baker City to start their business.
Staying stationary was a chilly task on Saturday night, so the Singers moved their table from the Geiser Grand's sidewalk south to Court Street where they could warm their hands over a fire built in a barrel.
Members of the Baker City Lions Club volunteered to tend the four fires stoked in old oil barrels and surrounded by wire from 4 p.m. to 8 o'clock so parade spectators could beat the cold while watching the floats decked out in Christmas lights.
"I think we had one of the largest crowds I've ever seen at the parade," said Terrie Laeger, HBC program manager.
The floats that brought the most votes from judges thus winning them $100 each were: Baker Middle School marching band for best use of music; Robbins Farm Equipment for best use of lights; and the Baker County Ambassadors for best use of theme.