Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs to keep holiday tradition alive |

Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs to keep holiday tradition alive

— When the city of Steamboat Springs decided to cut the annual community holiday party from this year's budget, Winnie DelliQuadri feared the holiday tradition would be lost forever.

"I have some really fond memories of the annual holiday party at Howelsen Hill," DelliQuadri said. The longtime resident of Steamboat Springs also is the city's government programs manager and president of the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs.

She understood the city's budget problems but still was upset about the event's fate.

"I love taking my kids to it," she said. "It's a big part of the holidays for many families in Steamboat."

DelliQuadri discussed the canceled event at a Rotary meeting, and the local service club stepped up to keep the 34-year tradition alive. DelliQuadri said she also credits the city and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club for helping to make this year’s event possible.

For the first time, the community holiday party will be combined with the Routt County United Way Holiday Wishes program, which helps provide gifts for Routt County families facing financial challenges.

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"We think this is the perfect marriage of events," event chairman Erik Griepentrog said. "Instead of having two competing events, this gives us a chance to bring everybody together in one big celebration."

Local restaurateur Rex Brice, who has hosted a Holiday Wishes party the past nine years at his restaurant, agrees that combining the events makes sense.

"I don't know how many families we can support with this event," Brice said about the 2012 Community Holiday Wishes Party, "but I think this is a good jumping-off point for the event to grow."

The free Community Holiday Wishes Party is from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 16 at Howelsen Hill. It will include tubing, cookies and hot chocolate and a visit from Santa Claus.

Organizers are asking members of the community to bring gifts for the United Way Holiday Wishes program, but doing so isn't a requirement. A gift list can be found at Brice said organizers have adopted 60 families this year.

"I would love to see that number grow in the future," Brice said. "Someday, I would like to see this event adopt 100 families.”

But Brice said gift donations aren’t the most important aspect of this year’s event. He wants everybody to feel welcome to attend the community party, and he wants everybody to come out to celebrate the holidays.

Brice said he committed to the United Way Holiday Wishes program several years ago after the idea came out of a holiday dinner party, where Steamboat Springs resident and fellow Rotarian Grant Fenton suggested the group of friends adopt a family instead of buying presents for one another.

"It just kept getting bigger and bigger," Brice said. "My vision was to see how many families we could support."

Brice eventually involved his business, which includes several Steamboat restaurants, and hosted a party and invited anyone who wanted to be part of the Holiday Wishes fundraiser.

Routt County United Way Executive Director Kelly Stanford said the program supported 370 families last year and 1,100 individuals. That number included 522 children and 89 senior citizens.

Those families were nominated by health and human services organizations and local schools. The larger organizations were Routt County Department of Human Services, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, Integrated Community and LIFT-UP of Routt County. Stanford said there also are many smaller groups that can nominate families who could benefit from the Holiday Wishes program.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email