Holiday lighting draws thousands |

Holiday lighting draws thousands

Carla Jean Whitley

Hotel Colorado’s holiday light display has been a tradition for nearly 30 years. Friday night saw an addition to the festivities: the lighting of Glenwood Springs’ new pedestrian bridge. The structure is lined with white Christmas lights — and Friday night, it was also lined with people, as thousands flocked to the Sixth Street hotel.

The event served as a celebration of the new Grand Avenue bridge, which opened Nov. 6.

“I’m thankful for everyone who was involved in the planning and construction of the bridge,” Mayor Mike Gamba said during the festivities. “And I’m thankful for the patience and resilience of everyone in the community.”

Gamba encouraged the gathered crowd to visit downtown businesses following the hotel lighting and fireworks. Several shops offered wine tastings and nonalcoholic beverages, as well.

“In Glenwood Springs, wherever we come from, we help each other,” he said before encouraging the crowd to help downtown businesses recover from sales lost during construction.

Downtown businesses were bustling after the lighting ceremony. Restaurants were packed, and shoppers filled stores, some of which extended their hours for the occasion.

Book Train employee Greg Hensley said the shop saw an increase in business on Friday. That’s normal this time of year; Black Friday is a popular shopping day and kicks off the store’s busiest time of year. But he believed the lighting festivities and wine walk meant larger crowds than years past.

“It’s kind of funny to have to zigzag to get to the back,” said Hensley, who noted the shop had seen steady waves of customers all day. “Today I thought I’ll go around the whole building. It might be quicker.”

Speakers at Hotel Colorado said the crowd was likely the biggest in the past decade. Recent years have seen an estimated 4,500 onlookers.

The hotel’s lighting display has grown since its 1989 inception. In 2013, Travel and Leisure magazine included the hotel on a list of “America’s Best Hotels for Christmas.” Each year, the display draws thousands of onlookers. In the past, hotel management company Providence Hospitality Marketing Director Kerry Koepping has estimated 90 people pitch in to the annual effort.

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