Holiday Lighting Ceremony signals beginning of winter in Fort Collins

Matt Smith

Video by Marlo Lundak

It may not even be Thanksgiving yet, but the holidays are already upon us in Fort Collins.


Hundreds gathered in Old Town Friday to usher in the holiday season with the lighting of thousands upon thousands of brilliant white lights. Stretching throughout seven blocks of the city’s busiest quarter, the beautiful display will stay up through to Valentine’s Day.  

A big crowd turns out to enjoy the Downtown Holiday Lighting in Old Town in Fort Collins, Colo. Nov. 4 2016. Photo by Nathan Kaplan

In a bustling ceremony centered around Oak Street Plaza and dotted with musical performances, hot chocolate and as many dogs as people, a sea of revelers counted down to the moment of illumination. With entire families packing the streets, the city was indistinguishable from Disneyland. 

The Old Town Spice Shop provided complimentary hot chocolate while the Andrew Vogt Jazz Quartet played some jazzy renditions of holiday classics in the Plaza. Just about every business was enjoying lines out the door. 

A couple of students were caught completely by surprise in the celebration. On their way to get a quick bite, they found themselves in the epicenter.

“We didn’t know what was going on until (the lights) all came on,” Allison O’Connell, a freshman neuroscience student, said.

Making the best of the sudden change in plans, O’Connell and Catie Parker, a junior biochemistry student, saw the Jazz Quartet perform at Oak Street Plaza, but not before the real main attraction of the night.

“We decided that we did not really know what was going on so we were just going to walk around and find cute dogs,” Parker said.

Trevor Kent, a civil engineering graduate student, enjoyed the ceremony for the first time.

“It was pretty cool; we’d never done it before,” Kent said. “I didn’t even know there was a ceremony associated with this whole thing.”

Collegian reporter Matt Smith can  be reached at or on Twitter at @latvatalo.