Merry December: Ol’ St. Nick on Route 66

courtesy/Discover Needles Facebook page

courtesy/Discover Needles Facebook page

This was one very long day. I don’t really have any complaints as it was a good day, lots of stuff going on, but now I’m so tired and I still need to have a post for today. The above photo, I have to admit, comes from the Discover, Needles Facebook page. I borrowed it because it was a good fit given that that’s my topic for the night. You would think that after a full day of typing out Ol’ St. Nick on Route 66 for the last few hours (or almost) that I wouldn’t want to type it again…ever. This is the last time for a while anyway. Hopefully.

It’s my topic tonight because, well, it fits. In some ways it’s better to write it after the event so I can discuss some of what happened versus writing beforehand. Anyway, if the goal this month is to talk about being merry, this is a good event for it. It wasn’t nearly as big of event as it could have been because of the “deep freeze” that’s been happening for the last several days. It was much colder than this area has experienced as of late, though not really too unusual for this time of year. It just happened suddenly. The big thing was the wind. It’s one thing when the temperatures drop, it’s another when it’s colder and windy. That wind chill can really chill a person to the bones. It was supposed to rain also, but luckily it didn’t do that. If it had, I think that would have killed the event all together. That would be most unfortunate.

Despite the cold weather, there were still plenty of people who attended. There weren’t quite as many vendors, etc., but overall it was a pretty good attendance for the circumstances. I could still see people laughing and having a good time; they were being merry. Among my favorite things to see today, there was a dance group called the Riverside Line Dancers. These ladies donned Christmas apparel and Santa hats. They also performed some fun line dances to songs like “Greased Lightning” and Christmas songs like “Jingle Bell Rock.” They were a lot of fun to watch. It was obviously they had fun with it too.

There was also the Peewee derby races. The little kids got their pinewood derby racers all ready and two would race at a time. It was a fun time. This is the third year doing this race. Previously, the event was called Olde Fashioned Christmas Party but was given a makeover. The recreation center also updated the races. Previously, the races were for the kiddos in miniature cars (okay there’s a better word for this but at nearly 11 p.m. and a very long day at work, I can’t find the right word… bare with me). It was so cute. That was changed to the pinewood derby race, which is still just as fun. The kids get so excited.

The memorial tree lighting, the lighted parade and more really make this a day long, but thoroughly enjoyable. For a small town, it’s a decent sized event. It also is a great way to have the community kick off the Christmas season. I really enjoy this event. The people come down and have fun. There’s shopping to be done via the merchant vendors there and it’s great because it’s free of the crazy mall shoppers atmosphere.

Small town events like this are special, at least I think so. It has the feel of remembering what the Christmas and giving spirit is all about – togetherness and enjoying what you have but also having a chance to give to others by buying unique handmade gifts made by local folks. There are so many families that I see at this event and that always makes me smile. It is a good way to connect too. This was true of the Christmas Prelude in Salida, Colo., also.

The Christmas Prelude was a three day event. Sadly, I can’t remember all the details of how it works now, but it was a great event also. I loved that they usually included carriage rides, which in a small mountain town, is really awesome. This event was typically the weekend of Thanksgiving. It really served as a way to kick-off the Christmas shopping season but also the season itself. The big thing that always stood out to me about this event, was the lighted parade and of course, the lighting of Christmas Mountain.

So, the said mountain is really a very large hill that has a wooden “S” on the side of it that has lights around it to light up every night. It blinks between the “S” and turning into a giant red heart because Salida claims to be in the Heart of the Rockies… it pretty much is too. Well, that same “S” becomes a large Christmas tree with the “S” inside and large lighted ornaments. It all begins with the lighted parade. Small towns like their parades. At the end of the parade, Santa ends up in Riverside Park where he lights Christmas Mountain. There are fireworks and Holiday Park is also lit. Holiday Park is a long line of decorated Christmas trees on either side of a walkway through Riverside Park. Some of the trees are in memorial of someone or many someones as the case may be. At the end of the walkway, there’s a sort of roundabout walkway with more lit trees. The idea is to remember loved ones during the holiday season. It’s really beautiful.

The entire event, from the first day to the last day, is just wonderful. Again, it’s this great opportunity to get together with family and friends, enjoy the wintery weather (okay maybe I’m the only one who enjoys it but I do), bundle up, drink hot cocoa, etc. It’s just a really amazing time and I loved it. I still would if I ever got to go up there for it anymore. Either way, both events in two very different small towns share some things in common. Both events about bringing families together, emphasize supporting small town economy which in turn is like helping family really. These towns are both so close knit so supporting local business is very much like supporting family. That’s what the holiday spirit is about… is it not? Well, all I can say is if you ever visit Salida, or Needles, be sure to go at a time when you can go to the Christmas Prelude or Ol’ St. Nick on Route 66. It’s a unique experience you won’t get anywhere else.

I do want to make a quick note that today is Pearl Harbor Day. On this day in 1941, the Japanese woke the sleeping giant by attacking a sleepy naval base. It would change our lives forever, and theirs. The next four years would mean about 400,000 American lives lost in a hard fought battle in Europe and in the Pacific. It could be looked at the way Charles Dickens described the French Revolution in “A Tale of Two Cities,” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It really was both. The human spirit, the American spirit was revealed in more ways than one. It was an incredibly sad, tragic day in U.S. history and it does indeed live on in infamy as described by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but it also again proved to show so many positives. Those who lived honored those who died by picking up the pieces and coming together to do what was needed at that time. It’s a very important day.

Other December notes for this day:

• Letter Writing Day – I will be honoring this tomorrow as I get back into my letter writing ways as volunteering.

• International Civilian Aviation Day

• National Cotton Candy Day (super sweet!)

Okay… it’s time for bed… and then more writing in the morning… which is technically in 10 minutes. Oh boy. Good night WordPress!

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