Downtown Glenwood decked out for the holidays | PostIndependent.com

Downtown Glenwood decked out for the holidays

Rob Norville of New Castle escorts Isabella, 6, and Sofia, 3, for a visit to see Santa Claus on the Garfield County Courthouse lawn Friday evening as part of the Glenwood Springs Glen-A-Palooza holiday celebration.
John Stroud | Post Independent

A visit by Santa Claus, along with the annual appearance by Father Christmas and his live reindeer and marshmallows over a warm campfire helped to set the holiday mood in downtown Glenwood Springs on Friday evening.

The night was extra special for 4-year-old Elijah Lopez of Glenwood, who just got out of Children’s Hospital in Denver earlier this week where he had heart surgery.

“We wanted to come out and celebrate a little bit after all that,” said his father, Jose Lopez, who posed with Elijah and younger brother Ruben for a picture with the reindeer.

The December second Friday Glen-A-Palooza art walk and celebration provided an opportunity for merchants to show off their stuff amid the ongoing Grand Avenue bridge construction that has turned the lower downtown area into a construction zone.

Recently, several merchants teamed up with the city and the Downtown Development Authority to decorate the construction safety fencing with holiday lights and other ornaments to help make the area more festive.

“I feel more encouraged this year than I have in the last few years,” said John Lee, co-owner along with his wife Chrissy Manes of Providence Apothecary on Cooper Avenue.

“There’s more inertia, and more energy, and the grant coming through is great news,” Lee said of word earlier this week that the city will receive a $400,000 state grant to help pay for redeveloping part of Seventh Street into a “festival street” after the bridge is completed.

“I’m more excited than ever to see what’s going to happen down here,” he said.

George Cutting and fellow Cooper Corner Gallery artists Portia Griefenburg and Arlene Law were dressed as Santa and his elves while out singing Christmas Carols at downtown businesses and along the streets.

The gallery artists were among the people who started the second Friday art walks a few years ago, which have morphed into the broader Glen-A-Palooza celebration.

“It’s just our way every month to give a nice warm fuzzy excuse for people to come out and socialize and support our local artists,” Cutting said. “Honestly, even with the construction, I’ve not seen any slowdown of clients coming into the gallery, and the push to get people to shop local for the holidays has really taken off.”

Glass artist Bethany Ostrowski, who is also part of the Cooper Corner cooperative, agreed.

“A lot of Christmas is so mass-produced and anonymous, but if you come into Cooper Corner Gallery, know you’re getting something that’s hand-made by a local person who lives here and works here,” she said.

“It’s nice to see people working together toward a common goal, rather than everybody doing their own little isolated thing,” Ostrowski said of the monthly celebration. “There’s just more of a community spirit.”

During the summer, artists spearheaded a project where young artists painted the panels that now adorn the side of the pedestrian walkway in the 700 block of Grand Avenue.

“That was really fun to see the way it came together,” artist Judy Milne said. “I think it looks great.”