Christmas on Broadway celebrates 30 years with traditions new and old
Christmas on Broadway is poised to be another great year of festive celebrations in Eagle, but this year isn’t an ordinary year. This year marks the parade’s 30th journey down Broadway, and organizers are excited to celebrate the anniversary.
The festivities, like they have for the past four years, will begin early with the WassailFest. Wassail, a Christmas drink with roots stretching all the way back to Medieval times, will be served at participating Eagle businesses from Dec. 5 to 7.
“Most people don’t know what it is but it’s basically hot mulled apple cider,” said Mick Daly, member of the Eagle Chamber board. “I love it because it’s a 1,200 year tradition in the part of England where I was born and brought up, Somerset. Somerset is our apple capital, it’s also the cider capital of the world, actually.”
He’s stepping down from the board this year and wanted to take charge of Christmas on Broadway for his last hurrah.
“I’ve always loved the event,” he said.
Each time merrymakers sample a wassail, the shopkeeper will stamp the “12 Sips of Wassail” card. Once each card has at least 12 stamps on it, the bearer will be entered to win a Yeti Hopper Flip 12 Cooler Bag.
There will also be a Noel Night on Dec. 5 from 5-8 p.m. Businesses on Broadway will open that evening, encouraging shoppers to get gifts for friends and family from local establishments. Organizers will also have Silishot sampling cups to help reduce waste during the WassailFest.
Of course, Christmas on Broadway wouldn’t be Christmas on Broadway without the parade. This year’s parade is on Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. This year is the first year that organizers have elected to have a theme, which is Christmas Now & Then. Also new this year are awards for the best floats and the First Family of Christmas on Broadway: Hugh and Lindsey Fairfield-Smith, who got engaged at 2017’s parade and now have a four month old daughter.
But not everything is bigger and better because it’s the 30th year: traditions are important at Christmas. Keeping with that, the United Methodist Church will be serving the community’s favorite chicken noodle soup. The festivities continue in Eagle Town Park with the live nativity scene, Santa visits, live music from Hardscrabble and a big bonfire.
And some traditions never die. Every year, for about 100 years, Eagle’s put up a huge Christmas tree in the middle of one of the main intersections in Broadway. Cars just know to drive around it, and snow plowed into the middle of the street before the new layout made for a great impromptu playtime for kids scrambling over stairs dug into the side of the snowbank.
Some traditions are well-loved but unfortunately have been discontinued in the name of safety. Bonfire Brewing, for the past few years, had decked out their float with a fire juggler, as a tribute to its name. However, the fire marshal asked them to find a new tradition to make sure everything stays safe at the parade.
Annie Colby, one of Eagle’s most recognizable names and multigenerational retired owner of the Nearly Everything Store, was one of the first people to get Christmas of Broadway off the ground. She wanted to create a celebration in a central location for everyone to enjoy.
“Now, here’s the deal,” she said. “There was one elementary school, one middle school – I don’t even know if we had a middle school – and one high school in Gypsum.”
“No matter what you have to get the elementary kids involved. Because if they have to come then the parents have to come because they have to drive them.”
The first three years she ran the parade, when the parade was about to get going at 6 p.m., she’d pray for snow. Lo and behold, snowflakes fell from the sky precisely at 6 p.m. each of those years.
“Three years in a row, when I ran it, Mick. Now see what you can pull off,” she jested at her friend Daly. “The lights turned on, the parade started, and it started to snow.”