Holiday-themed events hope to lure shoppers to downtown Steamboat |

Holiday-themed events hope to lure shoppers to downtown Steamboat

Luke Graham

— The ski season may have started midweek at Steamboat Ski Area, but the official start to the Steamboat holiday season begins at 6 p.m. Friday.

The seventh annual Light up the Night community tree lighting takes place from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday on the Routt County Courthouse lawn. The festivities continue into Saturday with the inaugural Sweet Treats on Mainstreet downtown chocolate tasting. The event runs from noon to 4 p.m. and will feature chocolate tastings at more than 40 merchants downtown.

"It's a way to kick off the season. It's a kickoff to the holidays," said Tracy Barnett, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs manager.

The annual day-after-Thanksgiving tree lighting will feature the spruce and apple trees outside of the courthouse lawn getting lit up. Santa Claus also will be on hand for children to visit with. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided, and the Jewel Singers will be caroling.

There also will be drawings for Downtown Dollars and a Ping Pong Ball Drop from the ladder of Steamboat's biggest fire truck. Each ping pong ball will have a deal from a downtown business written on it.

The chocolate tasting was proposed by Zirkel Trading owner Steve Hitchcock, who experienced a similar event 20 years ago during a Thanksgiving ski trip to Wolf Creek.

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On the first day of skiing, Hitchcock injured his shoulder and was unable to ski. He meandered into Creede and found businesses in town offering tastes of chocolate.

"I thought it was a great idea," said Hitchcock, whose store will be one of the 40 offering chocolate. "I hope it gives people a reason to come downtown and stay downtown."

The chocolate tasting event is partly designed to get locals downtown to shop. Barnett said Black Friday shopping frenzies don't often affect small merchants. She hopes an event like Sweet Treats on Mainstreet offers another reason for people to head downtown and into shops.

"The independent retailer doesn't see a lot of business on this weekend and that's true here locally," Barnett said. "Locals usually don't start shopping until the middle of December. We're really trying to promote helping your neighbors and friends. We want people to shop here."

Saturday also is the national Small Business Saturday, a marketing initiative started by American Express to encourage shoppers to spend money at local retailers.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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