Holiday festivities are a gift to area residents

Oh, the excitement of the holiday season is upon us. December arrives with festivities galore on the calendar.

Much like a child who can’t contain herself anticipating opening presents under the tree on Christmas, I’m looking forward to marking the season in Boulder City.

As a newcomer to the city, experiencing each event will be a gift. There will be the same wide-eyed wonderment and anticipation waiting for things to get underway as there is when you unwrap a present. First you check the gift tag, then you remove the bow. Slowly you peel back the paper until you get your reward.

How lucky we are that Boulder City offers so many gifts to its residents.

Everything begins in earnest tonight with the Luminaria and Las Posadas in the gym at the recreation center.

The Luminaria is marking its 25th anniversary this year, according to Gail Motley, who helped organize the first one. She told me she had seen something similar in Santa Fe, N.M., the year before and thought it would be a great thing to bring to Boulder City.

“It was just beautiful,” she said, acknowledging that the small organizing committee had no idea if anyone would come or enjoy the event.

Motley said the idea behind the Luminaria was to bring families together to celebrate the season. She called every church in town and they agreed to participate.

That first year, she, the organizing committee and their families filled 200 bags with sand and candles and brought them to a park, where they were lit after dark and glowed throughout the evening. Songs were sung and everyone had a good time.

The next year, 100 more bags were added and the attendance nearly tripled. A new Boulder City tradition was begun.

Another holiday favorite that I’m sure is a crowd-pleaser is Friday’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Frank Crowe Park. Jingle Cat will be there spreading good cheer.

Saturday is the Doodlebug Bazaar, an event I’m told that people look forward to all year. I don’t know what a Doodlebug is, but it does good work — the giant arts and crafts fair helps raise money for various charities in town.

One of the events I am most looking forward to is Saturday’s Santa’s Electric Night Parade. I have to admit, I’m a big fan of holiday lights. I love to watch them sparkle and twinkle against the dark sky.

My love affair with holiday lights began when I was young. We never put up lights at our house — it wasn’t something Jewish families did — but we always made a trek to Candy Cane Lane, an area of homes nearby where practically every house in the neighborhood decorated for the season.

We would drive up and down the streets, oohing and aahing at the festive displays, shivering in the cold night air because we had all the car windows down so we could hear the music that accompanied the lights.

One year, we were introduced to Hanukkah Harry, a fellow who closely resembled Santa Claus, but dressed in a blue and white suit and holding a sheep on a leash. I still have no idea how a sheep plays into the Hanukkah story, but it’s something I can’t forget.

After moving to the Las Vegas area with my own family, we started a new tradition: walking through the cactus garden at Ethel M’s in Henderson. We stared in amazement at all the lights carefully placed on the cactuses and often wondered how difficult a task that was.

The lights and sounds of the holidays were a treat for us, and I’m sure the Boulder City parade will be equally enjoyed and well-received.

With the Gingerbread House Contest and Faire, Santa’s Picture Party, Night of Lights, Jingle Jog, Red Mountain Youth Choir concert, Santa Train and American Association of University Women’s annual home tour among the events on the schedule this month, there’s bound to be something to please virtually everyone.

You may not be able to return any of these gifts, but why would you want to. They are exactly what a holiday present should be — something that will make you smile and give you a reason to celebrate this season.

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