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Spreading the joy in Golden this holiday season

Community keeps traditions alive

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When it comes to celebrating Christmas, few cities get as creative or as enthusiastic as Golden.

A look inside the Pearce Cabin at Golden’s History Park, 11th and Arapahoe streets, will reveal what decorating for the holidays in 1868 would have been like.

Inside, it’s got festive red ribbon and other traditional seasonal décor such as apples, pine cones and evergreen boughs. Hanging from the three-foot Christmas tree are handmade ornaments of gingerbread men and dolls made of yarn.

Back then, “they did what they could with what they had,” said Carolyn Granier who decorated the cabin with Andi Pearson and Joan Henefeld, all volunteers with the Golden History Museums. “It was about the intimate things and family.”

And today, that’s still what celebrating the holiday season in Golden is all about.

Just about every Golden entity one can think of — merchants and businesses, city government, schools, nonprofit organizations, service clubs, faith-based organizations and community groups — work together to make Golden a special place for the holidays.

In fact, it inspired Barb Warden, webmaster of GoldenToday.com, to write a book on it.

“Olde Golden Christmas” is a “tribute to the incredible outpouring of community spirit” during this time of the year, Warden said.

Only a few examples of Golden’s special festivities include weekend parades; holiday light displays; food, clothing and toy drives; musical and theatrical shows; and a variety of other private and community events.

“I’m always so impressed with the community effort it takes to make all this happen,” Warden said, giving special recognition to Carol Ann Bowles with the Golden Chamber of Commerce who “works year round to bring it all together.”

The way a community like Golden is created is by keeping up with traditions, said Renee Marcellis, a community volunteer.

“Tradition is so important,” she said. “It puts in our minds the fun and focus of the holidays. It brings people together.”

And one important tradition is the Letters to Santa at the Golden Visitors Center, Marcellis said.

“Throughout time,” she said, “both kids and parents have always enjoyed that little piece of the holidays.”

Stacy Fowler, co-owner of The Golden Hayride, is starting a new holiday tradition this year — the Elf Academy. The intent is to provide children with a meaningful, interactive experience that is about more than just receiving presents, she said.

“This event is about learning the importance of good deeds and spreading joy during this season,” Fowler said. “The Elf Academy invites children to experience Christmas through the eyes of Santa’s greatest helpers — his playful elves.”

The Golden Hayride will deliver the elves from the North Pole toy shop to Gold Mine Cupcakes in Golden, which will serve as the Elf Academy headquarters. Children will participate in a variety of activities, and upon graduation, Santa will award them with a certified elf certificate.

It keeps with the spirit of Olde Golden Christmas, Fowler said, while giving children another chance to be a part of the magic of the holiday season.

Golden residents anticipate finding out what is featured, and who the artist is, for the Leadership Golden ornament every year, said Dixie Termin, Leadership Golden’s ornament chair and past president.

The ornament series began in 1986, and has featured a community-themed ornament designed by a local artist every year since. The first one depicts Castle Rock and was designed by the late Hal Shelton. This year’s ornament honors the 150th anniversary of Calvary Episcopal Church, and was done by Julie Leidel, a local artist who also did the 2016 ornament of Heritage Square Music Hall.

A number of Golden residents own every one of the 34 ornaments now part of the series, Termin said. “Lots of people are very proud of that.”

The ornaments started when Golden resident Bill Robie, a graduate of the first Leadership Golden class, made a holiday visit to the Massachusetts city he grew up in. There, he saw a tree ornament that featured a scene from the community.

“I thought it was the neatest thing,” he said.

The Leadership Golden program needed an annual fundraiser, and inspired by the Massachusetts ornament, Robie presented the idea to the Leadership Golden Alumni Association Board of Directors for consideration. The group agreed.

The ornaments “represent Golden and the Christmas spirit,” Robie said. “It’s a way to annually renew that holiday spirit while supporting the Leadership Golden program.”

Another tradition is the Golden Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday Window Display Contest. This is the third year Terry Weber, owner of Faith Tattoo Gallery in downtown Golden, has entered the contest. But he’s been decorating the shop’s windows for the holiday season for the past 12 years.

“We try to gear the decorations to going back to the Wild West when people concentrated on the core values of a community during the holidays,” Weber said. “That’s what our community is all about.”

And like the tattoo shop, other businesses also go all out with their displays, Weber said. People love seeing all the lights and decorations when walking around Golden following a holiday parade or the annual Candlelight Walk, Weber said.

“It gives the smaller businesses a chance to shine during the holidays,” he added.

The Golden Fire Department has nearly 40 years of experience flipping pancakes for its annual Pancake Breakfast during Buffalo Bill Days in the summer, but this was the first year for firefighters to help out at the Breakfast with Santa event, Dec. 9 at the Calvary Church.

From dropping the wreath during the countdown for the Light the Lights presentation part of the Candlelight Walk, to delivering gifts to families in need, Golden’s fire department has always been involved with a number of the community events during this time of year, said Golden Fire Chief John Bales.

“Over the years, fire departments have always been involved with the holidays,” Bales said. “It’s tradition. And we enjoy doing it.”

Plus, he added, there is nothing quite like seeing the children’s eyes light up when they see Santa making his way toward them, riding in a big firetruck.

“It’s the holidays,” Bales said. “It’s for the kids.”

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