Christmas lights and memories bright – how Steamboat locals get in the holiday spirit |

Christmas lights and memories bright – how Steamboat locals get in the holiday spirit

Locals and owners of Cugino’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant, Sharon Pinney-Gamradt and John Gamradt will incorporate new holiday traditions this year for their daughter Aria and their new addition to the family, Evelyn.
Courtesy Photo

Locals and owners of Cugino’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant, Sharon Pinney-Gamradt and John Gamradt will incorporate new holiday traditions this year for their daughter Aria and their new addition to the family, Evelyn.

— Year after year, if someone were to ask me what my favorite holiday is, I would answer without hesitation — Christmas.

Perhaps it’s that feeling of wonder that comes when those big snowflakes start to fall and you catch yourself looking down Lincoln Avenue aglow with holiday lights as Mount Werner stands resolute in the backdrop.

Or maybe it’s as simple as baking grandma’s apple pie, decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments your 3-year-old self made or even turning on the radio and surprise — that favorite holiday song is back on the radio.

For someone who loves stories, hearing about various traditions is perhaps my favorite part of this holiday. Some people have traditions passed down from generation to generation while others are busy making new traditions.

I asked a few locals what their favorite traditions are for getting into the holiday spirit.

Birgitta Lindgren, owner of the Steamboat Ski Touring Center and her daughter Kajsa Lindgren

“The start of our Christmas is known in Sweden as one of the biggest celebrations, St. Lucia’s Day on Dec. 13. Girls will be dressed as Lucia and carry saffron rolls and ‘Pepparkakor,’ ginger snap cookies, in procession as songs are sung. Our traditions begin with that, and traditionally it’s the oldest daughter in the house who greets the family with ‘Lussekatts,’ St Lucia’s day buns flavored with saffron and dotted with raisins and coffee. Kajsa remembers being in St. Lucia for Christmas when she was younger as well. It’s a huge holiday in Sweden. Then we celebrate Christmas Eve with a tradition meal called a ‘julbord’ or buffet that often has herring served in different ways, gravlax (salmon cured in sugar, salt and dill) and more. We will have the big meal then open presents, and on Christmas Day, we eat the leftovers. But even though we are in Steamboat, we still celebrate it with a traditional Scandinavian Christmas with food songs and dancing.”

Sharon Pinney-Gamradt and John Gamradt, owners of Cugino’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant

“Now that we have a new addition to the family, we will make new traditions. Every year the girls will get new pajamas on Christmas Eve, and we will cuddle up on the couch and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Then we will leave out a plate of cookies and chocolate milk for Santa.”

Nancy Kramer, longtime Steamboat Springs resident and dedicated community activist

“This year we will be having a new tradition. We will be having a neighborhood gingerbread-making party for all of the kids in the neighborhood, and I’m making about 14 to 16 tiny gingerbread houses from scratch for the kids to embellish. We just thought it would be a really fun thing to do for all of the kids. Whether it’s a get-together, making gingerbread houses or cookies, the holidays are about gathering with friends and loved ones and being part of a community. Part of that too it sharing all of these tradition with kids to have them carry it on.”

Ashley Waters, event director for the Chief Theater

“My biggest holiday tradition is watching ‘A Christmas Story’ on TBS. They have a ’24 Hours of A Christmas Story’ that starts on Christmas Eve and plays through Christmas Day. Because my family knows how much I love it, they always turn it on and leave it playing all day. It’s my favorite movie of all time. One year, I came back from college and my brother was in high school at the time. My parents thought it would be hilarious to bring out all of our greatest ‘hits’ — all of our biggest presents from over the years from Power Rangers to Star Wars. It was hilarious. Another thing that is really special to me is decorating the house and my Christmas tree. The topper on my tree is an old-fashioned looking star that isn’t made anymore.”

Emily Hines, marketing and special events coordinator at the city of Steamboat Springs Parks and Community Services

“I have a small family. It’s just my mom, dad and I, so our holiday celebrations are typically small and intimate. When I was younger, we would take a trip to the Flat Tops near Dunckley Pass to hunt for the perfect tree. Our ‘perfect’ tree was not the kind that most people would consider ‘perfect.’ My mom was always adamant about finding a tree that was stuck in the middle of other trees, so we could cut it down and make space for the other trees to grow. Our perfect tree was always flat on almost every side, usually pretty thin and never more than about 6 feet tall. We would park the car and spend the day snowshoeing through the forest, eating our picnic lunch and searching for our Charlie Brown tree. We would spend that evening decorating the tree together, and every year, my dad would lift me up so I could put the angel on the top. After spending many holidays away from my family due to work and living in different locations, I am lucky enough to be back in Steamboat and enjoying similar holiday routines with them again. I am looking forward to another Christmas Eve filled with decorating, movie watching, delicious food and most importantly, family.”

Carroll Zamzow, owner of Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse

“We have our annual Christmas Party this Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. We’ve been doing this for the past four years, and it’s a lot of fun for the whole family. Later that evening, we will have music from Jesse Christensen. We decorate Christmas cookies, Santa comes to visit and we offer sleigh rides too.”

Meg Southcott, dance instructor, choreographer and marketing and fundraising coordinator for Steamboat Dance Theater

“Every Christmas my family would get in the car and drive to my grandparent’s house. It’s the house that my dad and his brother grew up in — a cold basement full of secrets, a secret closet upstairs with a full winter wonderland miniature model town with an electric train set and the long hallway with a ‘magic carpet’ that the grandkids would slide on back and forth down the hallway, until the grown-ups got annoyed. The family room is where the 10-foot tree stood, near the front window, for all the neighbors to see. Along the wall was the old record player that played music to entertain the family while they were there. Without a doubt, every Christmas the house would be ringing of Raffi Christmas and the kids would be singing and dancing, entertaining themselves as the adults prepared Christmas dinner. We were called for dinner, the music would be turned down, and grandpa would say, ‘Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub.’ The grandkids made a mess at the kids table as the parents would chat about life at the adult table. Before you know it, the music was turned back up, and the kids were dancing once again.”

Steve Kennedy, owner of Homesteader

“For us, the biggest tradition is on Christmas Eve when we have a cheese fondue and traditional entertaining because it’s the type of meal that you can have a lot of conversation over. Also, on Christmas Day we have a ‘Fondue Chinoise,’ which cooks meat and or veggies in a shared pot of broth. We usually have a bouillon broth with thinly sliced beef tenderloin and chicken. It’s a three-hour meal so we really have a chance to sit and talk. We also have different sauces we use each year, and it’s interesting to see who loves which sauce over the other. It’s great family time around the table, and we love the tradition of good food and family.”

Shari Fryer, Yampatika board president

“My family is half Australian, half American and our biggest tradition in preparation for Christmas, is sharing the creation of dishes with our twin 12-year-old boys, Jaydon and Jaxon. We will each choose a few dishes we are responsible for making. Last year, they made a broccoli cheese bake, bacon and the gravy. My husband and I do whatever protein and maybe a side of mashed potatoes. But our holiday starts with that tradition.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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