United Way, Saddleback Ranch gatherings highlight charity activities

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■ The Merry MainStreet Downtown Holiday Celebration is from 4 to 7 p.m. today. Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat will be closed for the duration of the event. The Santa parade starts at 4 p.m., and he will be in the Santa House on the Routt County Courthouse lawn until 7 p.m. There also will be a Joyous Jaunt pub crawl. Prticipants can get their entry card stamped at a number of downtown bars and restaurants to be eligible for prizes.

■ The seventh annual United Way Holiday Wishes Party is from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Rex’s American Grill and Bar, 3190 S. Lincoln Ave. The fundraiser aims to collect gifts for more than 45 families adopted through the United Way Christmas Wishes program. Attendees are asked to bring a new gift from the registry available at www.rexsholidaywi.... The event is family friendly and features kids activities and pictures with Santa.

■ The sixth annual Saddleback Ranch Cowboy Christmas Celebration and fundraiser for the Denver Children’s Hospital is from noon to 4 p.m. at Saddleback Ranch, west of Steamboat Springs. To get to the ranch, turn off U.S. Highway 40 just before Milner, at mile marker 122. Follow Routt County Road 179 for three miles. The event will include free tubing at the ranch, horse-drawn sleigh rides, hot chocolate, cookies and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. The event is weather permitting. Organizers request that people bring new, unwrapped toys for children in the hospital, if possible. Donations also can be dropped off at Prudential Steamboat Realty, 610 Marketplace Plaza.

— Two big charity events and a downtown visit from Santa Claus will help kick off the holiday season in Steamboat Springs this weekend.

The Merry Mainstreet Down­­town Holiday Celebration will close Lincoln Avenue from 4 to 7 p.m. today. The event includes a Santa Claus parade. After the parade, Santa will welcome children in his Santa House on the lawn of the Routt County Courthouse.

At the same time, Mainstreet will host a Joyous Jaunt pub crawl, and participants can get their entry cards stamped at a host of downtown restaurants and bars to be eligible for prizes. Also for the Merry Mainstreet event, a stage will be erected at Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue for carolers, fire jugglers and other performers.

Sunday plays host to the seventh annual United Way Holiday Wishes Party and the sixth annual Saddleback Ranch Cowboy Christmas Celebration. Both serve as fundraisers for the less fortunate.

Saddleback Ranch’s celebration includes a toy drive for Mickey’s Fund. Started by Moose Barrows and organized by Prudential Steamboat Realty, the drive collects and delivers toys to children at Denver Child­ren’s Hospital.

Laura Cusenbary, director of marketing for Prudential Steamboat Realty, said the toys must be unopened and unused. All gifts are appreciated and can be especially helpful during the holidays to help families who may be too jammed up with medical bills to afford gifts for their children.

“It’s important to know this facility is such a fabulous asset to our state as a whole,” Cusenbary said about Children’s Hospital.

In 2008, 19 children from Steamboat spent a total of 166 days in inpatient treatment there, in addition to 366 outpatient visits from Steamboat youths, Cusenbary said.

People who can’t attend the party but who want to donate can drop off gifts at the Prudential office at 610 Marketplace Plaza.

As part of the event, Saddle­­back Ranch will offer free tubing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, hot chocolate, cookies and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Also Sunday, the seventh annual United Way Holiday Wishes Party will collect gifts for more than 45 local families adopted through the Routt County United Way Christmas Wishes program.

Grant and Traci Fenton and Rex and Bettina Brice, with help from the Brices’ Steamboat Restaurant Group and Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, are working to collect more than 360 gifts for the families, ranging from humidifiers for elderly residents to toys for children. The party is from 4 to 8 p.m. at Rex’s American Grill and Bar.

The families are part of the 165 families matched through the United Way’s gift campaign. The list of families is generated through referrals by local human services agencies.

People interested in donating to the Holiday Wishes program can sign up for specific gifts at www.rexsholidaywishes.com.

Sunday’s party is family friendly and will feature a variety of kids activities and pictures with Santa. Attendees are asked to bring a gift with them. It does not need to be gift-wrapped.

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