Now in the 21st year, the annual Lighting of Dillon will illuminate La Riva Mall on Main Street from 5:30-7:30 p.m. today.Mayor Ron Howard will be on hand at the beginning of the event to flip the switch and set the entire town aglow.DJs and carolers from the Lord of the Mountains Sanctuary Choir will provide music. Area businesses will supply hot cider, coffee and food."It will be a really festive atmosphere," said Dillon events marketer Matt Miano. "It's a great family event."Children will receive goody bags full of holiday crafts. They will also get a chance to sit on Santa's lap, and tell him what they want for Christmas. Parents can purchase a photo of the encounter online on Monday. Reindeer will also be on hand.The event will also feature a Christmas tree and wreath auction for the fourth consecutive year. Walmart and Lowe's have donated 13 trees and 10 wreaths this year, which were given to local businesses and individuals for decoration. Many of the trees have themes, such as snowmen or Charlie Brown. Others come with gift certificates to area businesses. The trees range from 3 feet to 9 feet tall. All trees and wreaths will be available to purchase in a silent auction throughout the evening. In the past, auctions have raised upwards of $4,000. The proceeds will be donated to the Family Intercultural Resource Center as part of the Summit County Cares fundraising campaign."We encourage everybody to come," said Ginger Wray, who started and organized the auction. "It's a fun place to come and have your children stand by a tree, take a photo, then go down and see Santa."Festivities in Dillon will continue throughout the holiday season.
The Dillon Business Association will host holiday bonfires with Santa at Dillon Town Park, on the east side of Buffalo Street, on Fridays - beginning this week and continuing Dec. 14 and 21 - from 5:30-7 p.m. There will be hot cocoa, marshmallows to roast on long skewers, sing-alongs led by holiday carolers (Mountain Majesty chorus joins for the first two bonfires) and appearances by jolly ol' St. Nick himself all three nights."We talked him into making a stop to take some last-minute requests and then he's going back to the North Pole to share those request with the elves," said Katie McDermott, administrator of the Dillon Business Association.
The bonfires are just part of the fun. Families can also enjoy "Santa's Christmas Puppet Show," free of charge, at the Lake Dillon Theatre again this year. Last year's holiday puppet shows, featuring puppeteer Toni Napolitano, drew a nearly packed house, and the theater's intimate setting allows kids to sit up close to the show. Sing popular holiday songs along with Napolitano's puppets Friday and Saturday or Dec. 14-15, at 5 p.m. just before the bonfire or at one of the other scheduled performance times.
Meanwhile, throughout Dillon, businesses and residents are busy trying to outdo one another in the third annual holiday decorating contest, which runs through Jan. 6. Although all decorations are game, McDermott admitted that those who win often have the best lighting displays. New this year, all participants need to register their residences or businesses for the competition by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (it is also okay to register another person's house) and voting is done online at www.dillondba.org. Voters can cast one vote per day until the end of the contest. All properties must be within Dillon town limits to participate.Residential winners receive prize packages including merchandise, activity certificates, dining certificates and services. Last year, the total prize package value was $1,100 split between the top three winners, McDermott said. Business winners earn the honor of displaying a trophy and, for the first time this year, take home a cash prize.Sanders True Value in Silverthorne is offering a 10 percent discount off regularly priced lights and displays for registered Festival of Lights contestants. "It's just fun to put up the lights and the whole block gets involved and has this whole outdoing the Joneses thing going on," said McDermott, indicating that west Buffalo Street is "amazing" right now."By lighting up the businesses and residences, it draws people's eye to Dillon," she said. "You can see it from across the lake if it's done right. We want people to come into town and spend some time and find out what we have."