Dressed for the holidays

Will Grandbois

The lights at the Hotel Colorado and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park may be the most eye-catching around. Several other displays, however, twinkled to life around the area last week, and more are set to debut this weekend.

“Light up Carbondale” is today as part of the town’s monthly First Friday celebration. A group of fifth-grade carolers will set the tone for the initial lighting of the large tree at Main Street and Weant around 5:15 p.m., then a pedestrian parade will accompany Santa down to Fourth and Main for the full illumination of all 30,000 lights on Main Street, followed by cookies, hot chocolate, marshmallow roasting around a bonfire and caroling.

Kids 5 and younger can visit Santa at the Launchpad, 76 S. Fourth St., from 3:30 to 5 p.m., and older kids can catch him after the lighting from 6:30 to 8. The Launchpad will also feature performances by Sol Theater’s cast of “Annie” and the Crystal River Ballet Nutcracker dancers.

Basalt also puts its 10,000 lights on display tonight as part of a celebration at Lions Park. The official lighting is at 5:15, but caroling, cookies, hot cocoa and cider, chili, a bonfire, carriage rides and ornament decorating run from 4 to 6 p.m. Pose for a photo with Mr. and Mrs. Claus or avail yourself of live music from Cathy Markle Quartet, Dwight Ferrin and the Basalt High School choir. The event is free, with attendees encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Shining Stars Toy Drive benefiting children with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.

Most of New Castle’s 8,000 lights have been lit at night since before Thanksgiving.

“It’s a great way to showcase the downtown,” said Parks Foreman Mike Callas. “We’re slowly expanding year by year. We’ll just keep building the festive spirit.”

The official lighting ceremony, complete with the illumination of the big spruce at Burning Mountain Park, takes place Saturday as part of the town’s 17th annual Holiday Chili Cook-Off. First, there’s the dedication of the Flattops Pedestrian Bridge and Talbott Trail at 3 p.m., then the cook-off runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Admission is free, but tasting the chili costs $5.

Rifle also hosts a tree-lighting ceremony 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Centennial Park as part of the chamber’s “Hometown Holiday” celebration. The town also has a Window Display Contest, Scavenger Hunt and Gift Wrapping workshop on Friday, and a craft fair, bonfire and performance by Symphony in the Valley on Saturday. Santa Claus will make appearances at the new Ute Event Center from 5-7 p.m. Friday and 3-5 p.m. Saturday.

Silt has lights downtown for the first time this year, twining trees installed as part of a federal mineral lease-funded downtown improvement project between Ninth and Third. Although no formal ceremony accompanied the lighting, the town has already had some positive feedback.

“We’ve been getting a huge amount of compliments on what we did this year,” said Public Works Director Gerry Pace. “It’s different and nice and fun and brand new.”

In addition the impressive private displays, Glenwood boasts around 30,000 lights on Grand Avenue and another 1,000 around the courthouse, jail and sheriff’s office. The town hires Jim Waters and Waters Landscape Maintenance to do the job.

“My guys really like to do it, because it’s something you can get instant gratification out of,” Waters said. “It really makes people happy and it boosts their spirit.”

Waters and his team do holiday lighting across the Western Slope, sparing businesses and residences the time and danger.

“People don’t realize the hazards of putting up lights. If you don’t do it right, there are problems,” Waters said. “Back when we were using incandescent, if we weren’t careful and strung too many together, we would blow the breakers on the streetlights.”

These days, almost every municipality has changed over to LEDs, or are at least replacing broken strands with the new, efficient, cooler bulbs.

“LEDs are the way to go,” said Basalt Public Works Director Boyd Blerbaum. “They take less energy and they last a lot longer.”

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