Santa arrives at the downtown tree lighting ceremony in Steamboat Springs on Nov. 28, 2008.

Photo by John F. Russell

Santa arrives at the downtown tree lighting ceremony in Steamboat Springs on Nov. 28, 2008.

Light up the Night set for Friday

Community tree lighting includes caroling, giveaways

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If you go

What: Light Up the Night community tree lighting

When: 6 to 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Routt County Courthouse lawn, on Lincoln Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets

Cost: Free

Call: 846-1800 or click here

— Additional lights, an expanded caroling session and about 400 pingpong balls falling from an overhead crane will make a splash at the Light Up the Night community tree lighting Friday.

Since it started five years ago, the Mainstreet Steamboat Springs-sponsored event has become a community gathering spot and traditional start to the holiday shopping season, Mainstreet Manager Tracy Barnett said.

“The first year, we had about 50 people, and last year we had over 600,” Barnett said.

Festivities start at 6 p.m. Friday on the Routt County Courthouse lawn with free hot chocolate, cider and cookies from Creekside Café. The Jewel Singers, dressed in period costume, will perform a few seasonal songs and lead the audience in a carol-filled singalong.

Santa will be on hand at the “Santa house,” an old lift shack donated by the Steamboat Ski Area and remodeled by Colorado Mountain College students in 2008. Children also will be able to visit with Santa from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 28, Dec. 5 and Dec. 19, and from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12.

The Home Builders Asso­ciation of Steamboat Springs & Routt County will present toys collected through its efforts with the Toys for Tots drive to representatives from the United States Marine Corps to distribute to needy children in Routt and Grand counties.

At about 6:30 p.m., six trees on the courthouse lawn will light up with an expanded display from previous years. Christmas Décor of Steamboat Springs added lights to trees in the middle of the lawn this year for a more dazzling showing, Barnett said.

Before the event ends at 7 p.m., Mainstreet members will be hoisted far above the crowd in a crane courtesy of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue. They’ll toss down about 400 pingpong balls, each marked with a discount or small giveaway from a local business, Barnett said.

Event attendees will be able to register for “Downtown Dollars” gift certificates during the first part of the night, and Mainstreet will draw several winners toward the end of the event, Barnett said. Contest entrants must be present to win, she said.

Barb Vargas, a Mainstreet promotions committee member who has been involved with Light Up the Night for the past four years, said the event includes something new each year.

“Every year it gets bigger and bigger. I remember when we started, we used to put luminarias up and down the sidewalk, and it’s grown so big we don’t have room for them anymore,” Vargas said.

Light Up the Night is a chance to see old friends and officially get into the holiday spirit, Barnett said. It’s also a kickoff to Mainstreet’s “Shop Downtown First” campaign. People can enter to win 1,000 “Downtown Dollars” at participating stores starting Friday. Mainstreet will choose a winner at the second annual Merry Mainstreet celebration Dec. 12. For more information about that event, click here.

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