Steady as a clock, Hayden’s Roving Christmas tree returns for another holiday season |

Steady as a clock, Hayden’s Roving Christmas tree returns for another holiday season

Walter Webber, shown in this undated photo in the Santa Claus outfit, was well-known for adorning his electrical truck with Christmas trees and pine boughs. He would deliver handmade candy and popcorn balls to children in Steamboat Springs on Christmas Eve.

— A tradition that encompasses the true spirit of Christmas returns to Hayden on Monday night.

This marks the 74th year of the roving Christmas tree tradition started by Walt Webber in 1938 in Steamboat Springs. The event has been held in Hayden in recent years. On Monday, four generations of the Webber family will take to the streets of Hayden with Christmas music, Santa Claus and bags of goodies for kids.

"I think we're pretty hard to miss," said Cindy Wright, Webber's granddaughter.

If Hayden residents want to receive a visit from Santa, all they have to do is leave a porch light on. The event is a gift from the Webber family, so there is never a charge.

"There is nothing like the joy on the faces of the little children as they open the door and shout, 'Mom, Dad, Santa is here,'" Wright said.

Families that live on dead-end streets or other areas that cannot be accessed with the roving Christmas tree trailer should call Wright to ensure a visit from Santa. Before the event, she can be reached at 970-276-4446. During the event, people can try calling 970-819-0500. Families also can just follow the music and come to a street corner to meet Santa and the roving tree.

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On the eve of its 75th year, the roving tree tradition is still embraced by the Webber family. It started when Walt Webber decided one holiday season to drive his panel truck through the streets of Steamboat playing Christmas music through speakers. Wright said Webber was Steamboat's first electrician. One of the duties he took on was providing the sound system for Steamboat's community events.

The roving Christmas tree evolved over the years with the addition of Santa and goodie bags for the kids with treats that were handmade by Webber's wife, Gertrude. Sometimes Webber would be out delivering presents until 1 or 2 a.m., Wright said.

"His father was a Methodist minister, so giving was always what he had grown up with," she said. "He loved the community."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email