Paradise >> An event around for nearly 60 years will surely attract many from outside the area.
Paradise Gold Nugget Days has been celebrated in town with events over the course of multiple days since the inaugural GND days in April 1959.
Since then, every April the town gears up for a celebration beginning with the crowning of the Gold Nugget Queen and climaxed by a parade down Skyway featuring a wide array of vendors and a whole ton of people.
While most are from Paradise and neighboring cities, a few are from afar traveling by car, motorcycle, among other ways.
Carl Shadburn and Geary LaFountain rode into town on a Harley Davidson all the way from Redding to experience the Gold Nugget Days parade for the first time. For LaFountain, 60, it was a total surprise.
“I thought I was going to Chico and ended up here,” LaFountain said. “I’m glad I did because it’s a blast. People are very happy.”
LaFountain, a longtime Redding resident, loves that the family atmosphere with kids lined up along both sides of Skyway.
“I cannot believe how many young people (are here),” she said. “From teenagers to a little older all the way down to (children). It’s very shocking to see such a big family affair.”
After the parade Shadburn and LaFountain said they were going to finish out their day at the Chico Harley Davidson event before biking back to Redding Saturday night.
“I’m glad I came up here, and she’s really happy about it,” Shadburn said.
Aside from the parade, another annual tradition and staple of Gold Nugget Days is the Donkey Derby.
Schleiger wins again
The contestants may not have started trickling in until after 9 a.m., but plenty of spectators were up at the historic Magalia Community Church earlier Saturday morning for the 59th annual Donkey Derby.
Coming up from Whiskey Flats, teams, comprising one contestant and a donkey partner, made their way to the church in Old Magalia where they then were required to navigate obstacles. Each of the donkeys carried a satchel with 54 pounds of weight to represent the gold nugget of the same size that was pulled out of the canyon back in April 1859.
The trek out of the canyon can be tiresome, but the water pit, stairs and dark corridor that the teams must pass through before finishing is the true test.
For this year’s winner, Henry Schleiger, and partner Poppy, the course was no problem as they moved through the water and tires without hesitation. This was the second consecutive year the team took home first prize of $ 500 in gold coins. For Poppy, it was her 16th Donkey Derby.
“The hill here was the toughest part,” Schleiger said, “I felt like I was pulling her up.”
The next competitor didn’t approach the obstacles for another 10 minutes. Once they arrived, the first water pit proved challenging. As was the same for the rest of the field as they trickled in.
The spectators laughed as contestants grunted and pleaded with their donkeys, but the annual event succeed in kicking off Saturday’s festivities as a special prize was even awarded to the team who finished dead last.
Gold Nugget Days concludes Sunday with events at both the Gold Nugget Museum and The Depot in Magalia.
For more photos visit https://mng-paradisepost.smugmug.com.