Towns brighten holidays even more this year
summit daily news
Abundant snowfall isn’t the only thing making the start of ski season feel magical; this year, many Summit County towns are going all out with lighting.
Perhaps the most eye-catching display is Frisco’s snowfall and snowburst lighting, at the corner of Summit Boulevard and Main Street. This year, the Town of Frisco doubled its budget for lights, after researching the economic effects of holiday lighting on other towns. For instance, the Town of Golden, along the Front Range, studied the impact of downtown lighting and saw a 125 percent increase in visitation when it splashed the town with more festive lighting. When Kansas City doubled its budget, its Lighting Ceremony drew 250,000 people, up from 50,000 – plus media such as CNN covered the event, said Suzanne Lifgren, marketing director for the Town of Frisco.
The town will change its lighting display for such events as Tubbs Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer (pink), the barbecue challenge (red) and Fourth of July (red, white and blue).
Lifgren hopes the display, which took staff two weeks to string the 60- to 80-foot trees using Genie lifts, will increase winter stays by 3 percent, she said. However, she won’t know until sales tax reports come out and until she receives community surveys from merchants and residents next summer.
“So far, we’ve received really positive feedback,” Lifgren said, citing Facebook comments on the town’s page and her observation of several families taking photos of the trees. “We’re hoping this weekend sets the tone, to see if (people) respond to it.”
The new lighting is certainly stunning: Snowfall lights from American Lighting appear to drip from the branches, and starbursts and LED washes add to a spectacular effect.
“We wanted to create some motion and a dynamic look,” Lifgren said. “We’re trying to make (it) look like the picturesque town we are.”
And Frisco isn’t the only town showcasing itself through festive lighting. This year, Dillon and Breckenridge are working with businesses and residents to step up their effort.
The Dillon Business Association dedicated a portion of its budget to purchase lights after Christmas last year. President Bill Falcone bought more lights than he could fit in his SUV, and this week, he and other volunteers have been passing them out to merchants. After Thursday’s Lighting of Dillon, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at La Riva Del Lago Mall, the association will launch its Dillon Festival of Lights, which will include Mountain Majesty Chorus carolers and Santa visits from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4 at Pug Ryan’s.
“We’re asking all businesses, buildings and residences to decorate with lights,” Falcone said. “We hope to build on it each year, adding more events and more lights.”
Falcone invites all residents and business to participate; residents can pick up a contest yard sign at Lake Dillon Liquors. Anyone can vote; pick up ballots at Alpine Resort Group Real Estate, US Bank, Pug Ryan’s and Summit Real Estate Professionals, or vote by e-mail at info@DillonDBA.org. The best lit business wins a trophy, and the best lit residence gets a yard sign designating it as the winner (neighborhood bragging rights) and a gift package from local businesses.
Town council members agreed to re-establish the lighting funding they had cut from the previous year to support the Festival of Lights, Falcone said. Dillon will increase its amount of lighting, compared to last year, by 25 percent, said Brad Esser, Dillon events manager.
“We’re now returning to levels when we put a lot of effort into it … to help attract people to the Town of Dillon,” Esser said. “It’s going to be quite special when it’s all said and done.”
The Lighting of Dillon is one of the town’s cherished events, Esser said. It will feature live music by Altitude, church choir caroling, Santa Claus and Dancer the Reindeer, Mrs. Claus’ children’s workshop and free hot dogs, cocoa, coffee and cookies.
The Town of Breckenridge hasn’t increased its lighting, which includes more than 12,000 LED lights, said Kim DiLallo, director of communications. However, it’s supporting businesses in lighting by lifting restrictions, she said.
“We felt (lights) contribute to the whole character of the town,” DiLallo said. “It definitely enhances people’s experience. It’s just magical. It makes you feel like you’re in a special place.”
In addition, the Breckenridge Resort Chamber is hosting a sponsor a tree program, where individuals, families or businesses can sponsor a tree, with a weather-proof placard, for $225.
“This year, we wanted to open up more opportunities for community involvement, and tree lighting sponsorships, as well as additional carolers, was the perfect enhancement to the festivities,” said Sally Croker, events director for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber. “The sponsor a tree program is just one part of making the Blue River Plaza the hub of holiday spirit in Breckenridge. The Lighting and Victorian Wonderland celebration has grown significantly over the past few years to include a European-style market, several weekends of caroling, holiday-themed arts workshops, museum tours, quite a few holiday bazaars and much more.”
For more information on the sponsorship program, call (970) 453-5074.
In addition to the tree program, the public can vote on their favorite business display by picking up a map and tickets in the Blue River Plaza between noon and 5 p.m. today or Saturday, then casting votes at participating merchants. Three votes cost $5, and votes will go into a drawing for a two-night stay in Breckenridge and a gift basket. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. The awards party takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Motherloaded Tavern. For more information, call Sheri Shelton of Hand and Glove at (970) 389-1073.
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