The staff from Creekside Cafe marches in last year's Merry Mainstreet parade. This year's event starts at 5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Steamboat Springs and includes expanded offerings such as games.

file photo

The staff from Creekside Cafe marches in last year's Merry Mainstreet parade. This year's event starts at 5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Steamboat Springs and includes expanded offerings such as games.

Steamboat's Merry Mainstreet set for Saturday evening

Event includes light parade, games, Santa Claus

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If you go

What: Merry Mainstreet Holiday Celebration

Where: Downtown Steamboat Springs on Lincoln Avenue

When: 5 to 8 p.m. today

Cost: The event is free and open to the public

Gingerbread house locations

Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Ninth Street west of Lincoln Avenue

Lyon Drug Store, 840 Lincoln Ave.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 624 Lincoln Ave.

— With Lincoln Avenue lit with 50,000 festive holiday lights and heavy snow in the forecast, this year’s Merry Mainstreet Holiday Celebration could turn downtown into a living snow globe.

Tonight from 5 to 8, Lincoln Avenue will be closed from Fifth Street to 11th Street for the third annual event, a street festival organized by Mainstreet Steamboat Springs.

“So many small towns that you go to have an event like this,” Mainstreet Manager Tracy Barnett said. “You look forward to it every year, and it kind of gets the season going.”

The event kicks off with a light parade featuring 15 entries strolling from Sixth Street to 10th Street lit with glow sticks, lanterns or Christmas lights.

This year, the parade will feature the Chamber Coach, a lighted old gondola car, Heeling Friends dogs and Santa Claus riding in a Jeep.

After the parade, Santa will arrive at Howelsen Place to visit with children.

Then the reindeer games begin. Barnett said she wanted to bring more activity to the street with new events this year. There will be opportunities for participants to win prizes in games including pin the nose on Rudolph, Christmas trivia and a snowball toss through wreaths.

For Barnett, the highlight will be the new fruitcake toss.

“Most people don’t like them,” Barnett said about fruitcakes, “and they would just rather toss them than keep them.”

Event organizers will provide fruitcakes, but Barnett encourages people to bring their own. There will be competitions for distance and accuracy.

Entertainment acts such as local youth choirs and fire-twirlers will be stationed on street corners, and locally-made gingerbread houses will be on display at several of the downtown businesses.

Barnett said she hopes the event will draw people downtown and encourage them to consider local shops on their holiday shopping circuit.

“It gets people into the stores to see what there is,” Barnett said. “And it’s so that Steamboat gets a chance to get out and get in the mood and have fun. Small-town holiday traditions are things you remember after you grow up.”

She said her favorite part is watching people walk the streets, running back and forth across Lincoln Avenue and sharing in the festivities.

“I love seeing all the people on the street,” Barnett said. “There isn’t the traffic, so it’s just very peaceful and just festive.”

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 871-4204 or e-mail ninglis@steamboatpilot.com

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