- Written by Kim Sharpe Kim Sharpe
Ring in the season with fun, local celebrations Jingle bells ring. Choirs sing. Lights glow, so you should go…enjoy the holidays in NoCo. Its sights and sounds are sure to cheer even the Scroogiest of souls.*
Greeley resident Cheryl Kohl says, "The one thing we never miss is the Festival of Trees at the Union Colony Civic Center (UCCC)."
The festival begins the day after Thanksgiving and features a winter wonderland of trees and wreaths decorated by local businesses, individuals and organizations. There's even a Candy Cane Lane, which showcases evergreens decorated with ornaments made by children.
Kohl says she also enjoys the Greeley Lights the Night parade, which goes through downtown and ends in Lincoln Park. "Since the UCCC and Lincoln Park are right next to each other, it definitely makes for a beautiful evening since we tend to walk through the park after the Festival of Trees to go eat at one of the restaurants downtown."
Do you like to celebrate the holiday’s National Lampoon style? If so, don't miss the light display at the Greeley Grizwalds. Claire Damon says taking in this festive attraction, which is in her grandmother's neighborhood, has been one of her family's traditions for at least 10 years. "It's truly a spectacular light show and they have their own radio station that synchronizes the lights to Christmas music!" Get all the details at http://mike.btfh.net.
The Estes Catch the Glow Parade is another local favorite. Fort Collins mom Janet McClellan says, "It starts the holiday season for me. Cool, crisp Rocky Mountain air; happy, festive people; a feeling of magic; and sometimes there's even snow. A night of drinking hot chocolate while snuggled under a blanket with my girls surrounded by twinkling lights provides memories I will always treasure."
Sharon Lock-Mallow, NoCo mom and grandma, says the Estes parade's atmosphere makes her "…feel like I've stepped back in time a bit to a slower time, where it's not so commercialized. It's a good way to spend time with family."
If you plan to catch the Estes parade, keep in mind that U.S. Highway 34 is closed through the Big Thompson Canyon until Memorial Day 2018, so visitors must use U.S. Highway 36, which goes through Lyons and up the Saint Vrain Canyon.
In Fort Collins, Realities for Children lights up the night and many children's lives with its NightLights event. Held December 1st of each year, a 50-foot tree is illuminated with over 30,000 lights that are sponsored by individuals and businesses to raise money to help abused children. The tree lighting event is free to the public and includes music; warm soup, hot cocoa and cookies; and photos with Santa. Learn more at www.realitiesforchildren.com/nightlights/.
Another illuminated favorite is Fort Collins Gardens on Spring Creek's whimsical light display. NoCo mom Deb Ham says, "It's spectacular and the festivities include warm drinks and music, plus it's very accessible for those with disabilities and the elderly."
But NoCo holiday traditions include so much more than lights, like ice-skating at Loveland's Promenade Shops at Centerra and buying gifts at one of many artisan fairs, like the one held at the Fort Collins Senior Center the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Rose Marie Caglioti Massaro says, "We try to see a holiday musical every year. Besides it just being fun, it's an experience the whole family enjoys, it showcases wonderful local talent, and my own daughters get to see children their age show a commitment to a craft. Plus, the shows are often renditions of older stories, like Scrooge, A Christmas Carol and the Nutcracker, so I really love seeing my girls enjoy the same shows and stories I enjoyed as a kid."
Erin Sunderland Scarlett says she and her husband love taking their daughter to Old Town Fort Collins to visit Santa. She says, "The cool cabin in the center of old town feels traditional and cozy." But Santa makes appearances throughout NoCo, so if you don't make it to Old Town, catch Old Saint Nick at another of his many hang out spots.
To wrap up the season, Kathleen Bracke's family enjoys snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park on New Year's Eve day. "It's great way to close out the year."
*Plan your holiday fun using the RMParent Bravo guide.