Santa Claus is scheduled to make his triumphant return next week to Courthouse Square in the heart of downtown Sonora, following two years on the move.

City of Sonora Public Works crews have been busy over the past couple of days setting up Santa’s Village at the historic park, the beloved Christmas attraction’s traditional home since at least the 1960s up until the previous two years.

The attraction was moved to Linoberg Street in 2016 due to the completion that year of a $60,000 project to give Courthouse Square a facelift.

It was moved to Coffill Park in 2017 out of concern about the cost to replace the sod at Courthouse Square.

Downtown Sonora merchants led the charge over the past several months to see the attraction’s return to the park, which they said was a more visible and inviting location than the other options.

Derek Nunes, owner of PhoneSmart across from Courthouse Square, presented a petition to the Sonora City Council in June signed by 140 people who wanted to see the attraction returned to the park.

Nunes said seeing it back in its traditional home is a “good sign of the holiday spirit.”

“It’s the one traditional thing I remember always seeing downtown when I grew up,” he said. “I already had kids yesterday in my store super-excited and calling it out to their parents that Santa’s house was in the park and asking if they would take them there.”

There was some debate about the potential costs among city and county officials before James Jensen, owner of the Jamestown-based Greenview Landscaping, came forward and offered to replace the damaged sod directly underneath the structure.

City Administrator Tim Miller said the remaining amount to replace the whole quadrant will be split among the city, county, and Sonora Chamber of Commerce, with the county pledging $1,000 toward the cost.

Deputy County Administrator Daniel Richardson said the county was happy to contribute.

“It’s one of those viewscapes that I think contributes to the ambience of downtown Sonora,” he said.

Santa is scheduled to be at the park from 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays for the next two weeks beginning on Dec. 10, as well as noon to 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 23 and noon to 2:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

There also will be special events in downtown Sonora to have milk and cookies with Santa from 1 to 2 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the Heart Rock Cafe, at 1 S. Washington St., and to play games with Santa from 2 to 3 p.m. at Little Roots Toy Shop, at 106 S. Washington St.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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