MONTE VISTA— Thanks to the efforts of Monte Vista’s Parks And Recreation Department— and despite frigid temperatures— the city held its first ever Christmas tree lighting on Saturday evening at Fullenwider Park. The choir from Calvary Baptist Church and about 75 townspeople attended and sang carols before the lighting of the 30-foot tree. Mayor Dale Becker spoke about the upcoming holidays and importance of people coming together in support of Monte Vista’s newest holiday tradition.
The star atop the tree had been handcrafted by Becker in the week leading up to the lighting.
“Great job everyone who was involved with the Christmas tree in town,” posted Marcia Gardea Gallegos on the Monte Vista Community Awareness and Support Facebook page. “It’s so nice passing and seeing it on our main road. Very pretty!”
The weekend was packed with other holiday festivities besides the tree lighting, from a goodie-filled holiday bazaar hosted by the Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce to food and Santa at Stars and Strikes bowling alley, a window-decorating contest, a parade of lights, a free playing of “A Christmas Story” at Vali 3 Theater and Santa at the Fassett Building on First and Adams streets following the parade.
This was the first year Jennifer Becker organized the downtown parade and Santa vist in the Fassett Building. Lighted fire pits along Adams Street helped folks stay warm as the parade rolled by, and hot cocoa, coffee and a variety of cookies were served up inside the Fassett, which had been decorated to the hilt by Carol Riggenbach and her elf helper Corrina Settle.
This year’s theme for the parade and window-decorating contest was “A Christmas Story.” Rainbow’s End placed first, H&R Block came in a close second and The Polished Edge finished third. Prizes were $75, $50 and $25, respectively—and winners were encouraged to donate the money to their favorite charity. Salon Hererra won a bottle of Pino Noir for fourth place due to the creative efforts of owner Kevin Hererra’s mom, Juanita, who fashioned a lookalike just outside of the salon of the movie’s character, “Flick,” with his tongue stuck to the light post just outside of the salon.
More than 20 people and businesses participated in this year’s parade, from Monte Vista Machine and Tool to the local Girl Scouts, San Luis Valley Crime Stoppers, a mixture of students from the Monte Vista high and middle school bands, SLVoices.com and the rough-and-tumble SLV Roller Derby team. The Monte Vista School District Facilities Department went all out by building a gigantic leg lamp and other iconic things centering around the parade’s theme for its float. Several folks gave the evening a thumbs up on Facebook. “The parade of lights keeps getting bigger,” posted Don Martinez on Facebook. “Lot[s] of people in town given it was so cold.”
Stars and Strikes had good turnouts as well for its seventh annual holiday pancake breakfast, nacho dinner and Santa visits on Saturday. “We had approximately 90 people for the breakfast and 105 for the dinner,” said Stars and Strikes owner Starla Encinas.
While the meals were served, Santa was on hand in a side room decorated especially for the event. The only hitch in the giddy up was when Encinas’ 4-year-old grandson worried over how Santa got to the bowling galley since his sled was nowhere to be seen. But all turned out well. “[Asher] decided Santa parked it at the airport and an elf dropped him off at the bowling alley!” said Encinas, who also thanked everyone who helped make the event possible---”the community for their support and participation and the staff for their hard work and dedication.”
Becker is already thinking about next year’s parade. She wants to grow the event into a big event worthy of Monte Vista’s holiday spirit by signing on even more parade participants and growing businesses interest with a cookie crawl that involves folks collecting homemade cookies in tins at each business they visit. “Sort of like the Creede Chocolate Festival---but with cookies,” she said.