Lighting up the season
‘Tis the season to light some trees.Nothing says the holidays in the Vail Valley the way a fully decorated and brightly lit spruce or fir tree does, and the day after Thanksgiving officially marks the beginning of the valley’s tree-lighting season.At Beaver Creek, the resort’s 23rd annual ceremony comes with fireworks and a gingerbread house baking competition for local and regional chefs Friday, Nov. 28.At Vail, a Checkpoint Charlie tree-lighting the same evening is the first of a series of ceremonies culminating in the granddaddy of them all the 30th Annual President Ford Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 20.Friday’s 6 p.m. ceremony in Vail will be hosted by local historian and storyteller Frank Doll, who does the honors by flipping the first switch of the season, and highlighted by the Mountain Carolers performing traditional holiday songs and a visit by Santa Claus, who will roam Vail Village handing out candy.Meanwhile, in Beaver Creek Friday, families can make an entire day of it, starting with the Helmut Fricker Due performing on the plaza beginning at noon and wrapping up with free ice skating on the Black Family Ice Rink from 7 to 9 p.m.9News weatherman Mike Nelson does the tree-lighting honors at 6 p.m., followed by a free showing of “A Christmas Story” at the Vilar Center for the Arts at 7 p.m.In the gingerbread competition, the valley’s best chefs square off to compete for top honors and prize money of up to $500. The entries will be displayed and auctioned off to the public at the Park Hyatt, and funds will be donated to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a local charity serving abused and neglectedchildren in Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek counties.”This is a perfect afternoon and evening for families to join us as we embrace the upcoming holiday season. The gingerbread houses will most surely bring smiles to kids and those of us who are kids at heart,” says Tony O’Rourke, executive director of the Beaver Creek Resort Company.Here’s the full slate of events in Beaver Creek Village on Friday, Nov. 28: Noon 2 p.m.: Helmut Fricker Duo performs on the plaza. 3-8 p.m.: Gingerbread houses on public display in Gore Range Roomof Beaver Creek Park Hyatt Resort and Spa. 3-7:30 p.m.: Silent auction in Gore Range Room of Beaver Creek Park Hyatt Resort and Spa. 5:30 – 6 p.m.: Mountain Harmony performs on the plaza stage. 5:45 p.m.: Guests receive candles to welcome the new holidayseason. 6 p.m.: Santa leads the countdown for the tree lighting and fireworks display in the plaza. Mike Nelson, meteorologist for KUSA Channel 9, lights the tree.Helmut Fricker sings Silent Night, Shannon Tanner sings O Holy Night and Sean Pack, Berry Creek Middle School eighth-grader, sings Sleigh Ride. 6:30-7 p.m.: Public celebration featuring Santa, hot chocolate andcookies takes place in the Vilar Center lobby. 7 p.m.: Free viewing of “A Christmas Story” at the Vilar Center. Tickets are available starting at 6 p.m. at the Vilar Center Box Office window. 7-9 p.m.: Free ice skating for the public on the Black Family Ice Rink.Friday’s events also officially quick off the holiday performance season at the Vilar Center, including “Nollaig: A Celtic Celebration of Christmas” with Bohola, Saturday, Nov. 29; Michael Martin Murphy’s “Cowboy Christmas” Thursday, Dec. 4; “Wintersong: A Celebration of the Season,” Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble, Friday, Dec. 5; “The Nutcracker,” Friday-Sunday, Dec. 12-14; “A Christmas Carol,” Sunday, Dec. 21; Boys of the Lough, Monday, Dec. 22; and Jim Gamble’s “The Nutcracker,” Puppets, Friday, Dec. 26.Call (970) 845-TIXS for tickets or visit http://www.vilarcenter.org for a complete schedule of performances. For more information about the Fantasy Gingerbread Competition, tree lighting ceremony and other holiday events, call Beaver Creek Information at (970) 845-9090.The Friday, Dec. 28 Vail tree lighting festivities kick off a series of ceremonies taking place throughout the month of December capped off by former President Ford doing the honors on Saturday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. The next one is Friday, Dec. 5, at the Sundial Plaza in Lionshead, followed by a third tree lighting Friday, Dec. 12 at Crossroads Center in Vail Village.All Vail tree lightings are presented by the Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau and the Vail Valley Jet Center. For more information, call Laurie Asmussen at 376-3756 or e-mail Laurie@vailartsfestival.com.