The uncharacteristically warm fall Colorado has been experiencing this year made Friday night the perfect evening for the Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony that occurs in Oak Street Plaza in Old Town Fort Collins. The event takes place every year in the beginning of November to kick off the start of the holiday season. Thousands of lights were spread across seven blocks of Old Town, illuminating its streets and adding to its beauty.
Hundreds of people gather for this ceremony every year. It is a community-wide event that attracts people of all ages. There were children running around and playing games, adults standing around chatting, couples enjoying a beautiful date night and even students having a night out with friends. Despite the differences within the crowd, everyone has one thing in common: they were all radiating a positive energy.
The general feeling in the air was cheerful. Joy filled the plaza as everyone stood around engaging in conversation with one another and enjoying complimentary hot chocolate fudge from Kilwin’s Chocolate and cookies from Mary’s Mountain Cookies.
The ceremonial festivities were kick-started by CSU’s University Center for the Art’s Choir. They gave the crowd a preview of their holiday music. Community members in attendance were all delighted by the choir’s wonderful sound.
Following the choir and continuing with the theme of playing music that is representative of the holidays, was a saxophone quartet, followed by a brass quartet. Both groups gave heart-warming performances that added to the serenity of the night.
After the brass quartet finished up their set, the moment that everyone came to witness was finally about to happen.
There was great anticipation for the lights to be flicked on, it was an especially exciting time for those who have never been to this well-known ceremony before.
“It’s really special to see so many people coming together for this one event. I love the holidays and I remember Fort Collins last year with all the gorgeous lights, so I am very excited to see them turned on,” said Sarah Supplee, a first-time attendee of the event.
First-timers are not the only ones who anticipate and love the moment the lights are turned on.
When asked what her favorite part of the ceremony is, third-time attendee Gayle Brakefield responded “when they turn the lights on actually so I hope it gets dark fast.”
When the time came, the event coordinator got up on the steps of the Fort Collins Museum of Art, Inc., introduced members of the Downtown Business Association and Downtown Development Authority, some of whom addressed the crowd briefly, and then the countdown began.
The lights were flicked on at the end of the countdown, and the mood changed from being simply positive and cheerful to charmed and magical. As soon as the darkness became illuminated by the lights that ran up the trunks of the trees and into their branches, there was a brief moment of silence and awe from the crowd. After that brief pause, however, the crowd began to cheer and their faces were lit up almost as brightly as the lights.
Cameron Lalor, the volunteer staffing coordinator for the lighting ceremony, commented on how extraordinary this moment is for everyone saying that “it brings the community together and it kicks off the holiday season in a uniquely Fort Collins style.”
However, the festivities were not limited to the Lighting Ceremony, nor did they end once the lights were turned on. Carriage rides were being offered for five dollars throughout the night, different retail shops around town were giving previews of their holiday items, allowing people to get a head start on holiday shopping and art galleries in Old Town were opening their doors for anyone who wished to walk around and have a look at all the beautiful art in Fort Collins.
The Fort Collins Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony was a beautiful event put on by the city. Its community-based environment and positive atmosphere are a few of the many things that make this event so special. For members of the community, whether they have been around for a short or long while, this ceremony is looked at as one of the many things that makes Fort Collins so great.