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Getting ready for the holidays

SUN Columnist

While engaging in events like crafting, parties, decorating, baking and the like for the Christmas season, we might also remember where some of these traditions come from.

As we get ready to judge the business lighting contest, did you know that, in 1822, German merchants living in England displayed decorated trees in their homes? And, 60 years later, in 1882, the first electric Christmas tree lights were sold in New York.

Remember: residents of Pagosa Country have the opportunity to vote for their favorite residential and business lighting displays. You can obtain a voting form from the Holiday Palooza insert that was in The SUN on Dec. 5. Additional copies can be obtained at the Chamber of Commerce. The forms must be turned in at the Chamber by Dec. 27. Visitors also can participate after having driven around town to see the lights. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see some of the lights, please do so. There are some beautiful displays out there, including east of town to San Juan River Village, west of town near Lake Pagosa and don’t forget to drive the south Pagosa area, 6th to 10th streets.

In 1822, an American, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” for his family. This story was published in 1848 and is now known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” This story will be read at the Reservoir Hill Tree Lighting on Dec. 21 beginning at 5:30 p.m. Bundle up the family and head up to the Spa Trailhead where several trees will be lit, Moore’s story will be read, there will be musical entertainment and hot beverages and cookies will be served. This event is sponsored by The Friends of Reservoir Hill and GECKO. It is a free community event when we can enjoy some of Pagosa’s natural beauty and community spirit.

In 1939, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by Robert May for Montgomery Ward as a department store Christmas promotion. While there may not be reindeer, also on Saturday, Dec. 21, Pagosa Springs will host the first ReinDog Parade. Beginning with registration at noon at the Pagosa Springs Youth Center, the parade will start at 1 p.m. at the Youth Center, travel along the River Walk, turn around at the River Point Cafe and head back to the Youth Center. No costume for the pooch? No worry. There will be dog antlers available for a small fee. There will be brown bag drawings, hot dogs from the grill and hot chocolate. The entry fee is $10 per family and this enables you to score some great schwag from sponsors such as Pagosa Feed and Nursery and Chow Down. You can also get your picture and that of your dog(s) taken with Santa. Call 264-5030 for more information, or stop by the Youth Center, Humane Society Thrift Store or the Chamber for registration forms.

Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” first premiered on Dec. 18, 1892. It opened to less than favorable reviews due to poor casting and the audience’s unfamiliarity with the plot. Luckily, the music and the story has had 120 years of practice and exposure and is now one of the most beloved ballets produced all over the world during the holiday season. While it is not a ballet and not the traditional “Nutcracker,” don’t miss the “Winter Wonderettes” at the Pagosa Center for the Arts. The music is funny and heart-warming, and the voices are stellar. The musical engages the audience and this production is a holiday treat for all. Get your tickets and take the visiting family members or friends to this top-notch production and be proud of the excellent theater in Pagosa Springs.

It is noted that a decorated Christmas tree was first documented in Riga, Latvia, in 1510. However, the tradition of the Christmas tree is thought to have been started by theologian Martin Luther in 1535. The story claims that Martin Luther was walking home through the woods and wanted to capture the wonder and beauty of the evening. He cut down a tree, decorated it and took it home to his family. Shortly thereafter, it became custom in England when Price Albert had a Christmas tree set up in Windsor Castle especially for his wife, Queen Victoria, and their children beginning in 1841. Another lighting story is that of farolitos or luminarias. Spanish merchants were enthralled by the Chinese paper lanterns and decided to make their own version. The design consists of a paper bag weighted with sand and illuminated from within by a candle. The farolitos are arranged to create designs or silhouette outlines of buildings or a particular space. The decorating of trees, luminarias and outdoor celebrations will not be lost in Pagosa as the Country Center hosts a lighting “bash” complete with tree lighting, luminarias, music, Santa and some late-night, last-minute shopping opportunities on Monday, Dec. 23. The festivities begin around 5 p.m. at the west end of the Country Center parking lot. You can enjoy some treats and festivities and continue to celebrate the holidays, especially if you are just arriving in town.

As you can see, traditions continue throughout the ages and Pagosa is creating some traditions of its own. It’s hard to imagine that we are almost to the end of December— where has the year flown to? If you are a local resident or are visiting Pagosa, take some time to enjoy the beauty of our community and engage with neighbors and friends at one of the many events occurring during the remainder of December. For more information, pick up a Holiday Palooza insert at the Visitor Center.

Got jeans?

As the Chamber prepares for the annual meeting on Jan. 25 — Denim & Diamonds — we remind you that, if you are cleaning out your closets, you should recycle your jeans at the Chamber of Commerce. Our creative events coordinator Stacy Kirby will put those jeans to good use as decorations. Drop off those used jeans at the Chamber.

At the annual meeting, we will award the Citizen, Volunteer, Small Business, and Non-Profit community awards. Nomination forms are available on the Chamber’s website on the homepage. Just click on the nomination form you would like to complete, fill out the form and get it back to the Chamber by Monday, Jan. 13. We are already receiving nominations and this is a wonderful opportunity to say thank you to the many people who contribute so much for the betterment of our community. If you have any questions, contact the Chamber at 264-2360.

Business news

This is a reminder that the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor Center will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. We will have information posted about weather, roads, restaurants and entertainment at our outdoor kiosk.

We welcome back two renewals this week: Eagle Mountain Mercantile and Kip’s Grill and Cantina.

Voting for new Chamber directors will begin Jan. 6. Watch for the bios of all the nominees in The SUN.

This story was posted on December 19, 2013.