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Celebrate Easter, Gold Rush history and springtime at local state parks
columbia park easter
Columbia State Historic Park will host its annual Easter egg hunts for children starting at noon Sunday. - photo by Photo Contributed

Area state parks have a variety of activities planned that are sure to delight families looking for holiday weekend fun.

Pacheco State Park will celebrate the 13th Annual Wildflower Day from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Visitors can explore tables staffed by local volunteers from the California Native Plant Society, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and California State Parks. The information provided will help guests learn about the beautiful state park and other recreational opportunities in the area. There will be free arts and crafts for children.

A wild flower hike will begin at 10 a.m. This hike has a limited number of spaces and will be filled on a first come, first served basis at the event. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour with a free wildflower pamphlet. Families are encouraged to bring their own picnic lunch.

There is no drinking water available, so bring your own beverages. The weather at Pacheco State Park varies, so bring a layered clothing and sunscreen.

There is an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle. This same fee will allow guests to also visit San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area the same day. To learn more, call (209)826-6283 or (209)826-1197.

Pacheco State Park is located off of Hwy. 152 in the Diablo Range. From Turlock, take 165 south (Lander Avenue) into Los Banos. In Los Banos, turn right onto 152 East. The park is about 18 minutes from Los Banos on Dinosaur Point Road.

Columbia State Historic Park will celebrate its Gold Rush history this weekend, as well as its annual Victorian Easter Parade and egg hunt.

On Saturday, the town of Columbia will celebrate its 166th anniversary beginning at 11 a.m. with a speech in front of the State Park museum, with cake and punch for visitors. Discovery reenactments and additional buildings opened by costumed volunteers will be available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Visit with the volunteers and learn about the people who discovered gold and the town that remains.

Gold is believed to be discovered in Columbia on March 27, 1850, by a traveling party of men by the name of Hildreth. Supposedly within a month of discovery, more than 4,000 people flocked to the area to search for gold. Two years later, the town boasted more than 150 businesses, from laundries to general stores to saloons.

Dress up in your Easter finery and be a part of Columbia’s Victorian Easter Parade, a Victorian Era promenade on Main Street in Columbia State Historic Park on Easter Sunday. Prizes will be awarded for fanciest Victorian hat, and best dressed couple, lasses and lads, groups and pets. 

 Registration begins at 11 a.m. in front of the Fallon Hotel, and the parade gets underway at 12:30 p.m.

Children can enjoy Columbia's popular Easter Egg Hunts. The Small Fry Egg Search begins at noon for ages 3 to 5. After the Easter Parade, the Junior Egg Poachers (ages 6 to 8) will try their luck at 1 p.m., and finally the Great Egg Scramblers (ages 9 to 12) at 1:30 p.m.  Children who find the golden egg will receive a special prize.  And be on the lookout for Thaddeus E. Hare (Columbia's version of the Easter Bunny) walking around town, handing out fresh carrots to the kids.

All events are free. Sponsored by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 209-536-1672 or go to Columbia State Historic Park is located northeast of Sonora on Hwy. 108. From Turlock, take Geer Road to Oakdale and turn right on Hwy. 108.