Merry Mainstreet lights up downtown |

Merry Mainstreet lights up downtown

Crowd gathers to enjoy songs, shopping at inaugural Steamboat holiday event

Melinda Dudley
Three-year-old Eli Ince and his 8-month-old brother, Henry, visit Santa on Saturday during the Merry Mainstreet Downtown Holiday Celebration on Lincoln Avenue.
Matt Stensland

— Hundreds of Christmas shoppers turned out for the inaugural Merry Mainstreet event in downtown Steamboat Springs on Saturday night – many with leashes and strollers in tow, some clad in Santa hats, and a particularly daring few riding their beach cruiser bicycles in defiance of the falling snowflakes.

The earliest arrival to the holiday stroll – and her extremely cooperative parents – may have been the first person in line to see Santa Claus.

“There was a little girl waiting 45 minutes before Santa even got here,” Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said. “She was determined to be first in line.”

The new Santa Claus house on the Routt County Courthouse lawn also was a hit. The former lift shack was donated by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., and outfitted as Santa’s seasonal house by students at Colorado Mountain College.

A large crowd gathered at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue, watching in awe as Rob Capone, of Aspen Vail Ice, crafted a more than 6-foot-tall nutcracker out of ice.

“Something this size takes me a couple hours,” Capone said.

Children who stood up close, gaping as Capone artistically wielded his power tools, clamored to snack on the ice shavings – and the snowflakes accumulating on Capone’s completed Howelsen Place sign.

Further down the block, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” pumped out of the speakers at Hofmeister Personal Jewelers. The song was the inspiration for the store’s window display, which featured a reindeer-flattened grandma hung between two display cases, hoof prints on her back.

Onlookers also crowded around the gingerbread house on display at Steamboat Ski & Sport Downtown Howelsen Place, Ski Corp’s new downtown store that opened just in time for Merry Mainstreet festivities. The edible creation, crafted by Jean Wernig, of Gondola Square’s Geano’s Cafe, was one of five professional gingerbread houses vying for the votes of downtown shoppers during the event.

“It’s a great way to get people out,” Trish Sullivan said, sipping hot cocoa from a mug in her gloved hands on the Lincoln Avenue sidewalk. “We’re all having a great time.”

Barnett was optimistic the Merry Mainstreet celebration will become a much-loved Steamboat holiday tradition and grow in popularity in the coming years.

“I’m really pleased for the first year,” Barnett said. “The stores are full; people are doing well. Some of the stores are packed, even.”

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