Hayden and Steamboat illuminate Christmas trees this weekend

James Pritchard gets a thumbs up from Santa during the 2019 Light Up The Night tree lighting ceremony in downtown Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

When the leftover turkey is gone and the shopping deals are done for the day, Main Street Steamboat will keep the festivities going with the holiday tree lighting from 6-6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at the Routt County Courthouse lawn. 

The event is jam packed with action and holiday spirit, starting with cocoa, cookies and meetings with Santa Claus. 

The Steamboat Springs Fire Department will drop hundreds of ping pong balls with specials on them for attendees to find. Of course, that’s no easy feat as the white balls will likely blend in with the snow. 

Counting down from 10, all in attendance will help build excitement lead up to the lighting of the tree. 

When the evergreen is illuminated, the holiday season will be underway. By 6:30, all the action will be over, so people are encouraged not to be late.

Steamboat Lightscapes plays a huge role in the event, sponsoring and donating the lighting of the tree on the courthouse lawn, as well as other trees on Lincoln Avenue. 

People gather to catch ping-pong balls filled with prizes during the 2017 Light up the night community tree lighting event on the Routt County Courthouse lawn. The event kicks off the holiday and shopping seasons with visits from Santa, caroling, hot chocolate and cookies.
Matt Stensland/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

Santa will be available to meet in his study again later in the year, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first three Saturdays in December. 

About 24 hours later, Hayden will celebrate in similar fashion, with the holiday tree lighting from 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at the corner of Fourth Street and Jefferson Avenue. 

In Hayden, there will be cheerful, filled with cookies and cocoa and caroling as well as a special appearance from Santa. 

Also, starting Saturday and running through mid-December will be Hayden’s Light up the Night holiday yard and house decorating contest. 

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Bill Doolin, an employee at the Hayden Center, said he remembers a similar competition when he was younger and living in west Routt County. 

“This is the first time we’ve done it since I can remember. I know they used to have a tree lighting competition when I was very young here many, many, many years ago,” he said. “They’re encouraging the whole town to go all out and get lit up.”

The competition was inspired by ”National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,“ and the people of Hayden are encouraged to channel their inner Clark Griswold and be ambitious decorators. 

“I’m not sure how they’re going to react,” Doolin said. “There’s some lights and things here, but now that there’s a contest going, we’ll see how competitive people get. We have some pretty competitive people around here. We’ll see what happens.”

Doolin said the most lights appear in the new construction south of town and around the hospital hill area, though he hopes the competition will encourage more people to express their holiday joy through decor. 

“It’d be nice if that trickled down into the area downtown,” he said. 

For those who do embrace the Clark Griswold attitude, there will be prizes. Judges from the Hayden Parks and Recreation Board will select a winner and award them a yet-to-be-determined prize.

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