Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony

New or native to Fort Collins, there is one thing most people can agree on – this city is beautiful under falling leaves and gentle snow.

The holiday season is upon us and Fort Collins will be officially kicking it off this Friday evening from 6-7 p.m. with the annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony in Old Town.

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Since 2006, the citizens of Fort Collins have gathered in Old Town on Nov. 1 to witness the city’s official lighting.

With LED lights draping the trees, Fort Collins is a sight for sore eyes this time of year.

Peggy Lyle is the Assistant Director for Downtown Fort Collins Business Association, one of the primary sponsors for the ceremony.

“It’s definitely the kickoff to the holiday season,” Lyle said. “There are hundreds of people that come to Oak Street Plaza to watch it happen. It’s not a long process, but people can mill around and enjoy the refreshments.”

There will be cookies and hot apple cider to enjoy, as well as a live performance by Andrew Vogt and his band.

Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat does the official flipping of the switch.

“People will have the opportunity to take pictures with the mayor and the lights,” Lyle said. “Afterwards, people will usually go out to dinner to celebrate or go shopping.”

While the ceremony is primarily a project put on through the joint efforts of the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association, The Downtown Development Authority and The City of Fort Collins, there are several local sponsors including Colorado State University.

“One of the things that we [CSU] have seen over that last several years is that the town of Fort Collins is a really important element of how we market CSU,” said Tom Milligan, vice president of External Relations at CSU. “It’s a big part of why students come here from all around Colorado and all around the country, because Fort Collins is such a terrific place.”

Over 1,000 hours are put into hanging up the lights all across Old Town. As they do every year, the lights will remain up until Feb. 14.

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“We are really proud to be a part of Fort Collins, it’s our home town and if we can help in the community we try to do all that we can,” Milligan said.

For most Fort Collins citizens, the holiday lights are the finishing touch to the holiday season.

Nicole McAuliffe, a sophomore business major, was raised in Fort Collins her entire life.

“Everyone comes to Old Town when the lights are lit up!” McAuliffe said. “It’s the best time of the year because they put everyone in a generous, loving mood.”

However, at this point in time, the lights are not there as simple decorations, now they hold all the sentimental value of a long lived tradition.

“It’s important for community traditions like this to continue because it brings everyone together,” McAuliffe explained. “Old Town isn’t just a place for the college students or for long term residents, it’s for the whole community and holding a ceremony for the lights is a good way to bring everyone together.”

So grab some loved ones and a steaming mug of apple cider to participate in one of this town’s truly cherished traditions.

 Collegian Entertainment Senior Reporter Peyton Garcia can be reached at news@collegian.com.