One announcer suggested 5,000. Another suggested 10,000.
Either way, it was a record number of attendees at this year's Candlelight Walk, which took place Dec. 2 on Washington Avenue in downtown Golden.
“Everybody should come because it's …
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“Everybody should come because it's cool,” said Nathan Pedavoli, 6.
The best part, his older brother Dominic added, is when the lights are flipped on and downtown Golden is lit up all at once.
“It's really colorful and bright,” Dominic, 11, said.
The Pedavolis have lived in Golden for five years, and has attended the Candlelight Walk every one of those years. They joined the crowd of people perched on the Howdy Folks statue of Buffalo Bill outside of the Golden Visitors Center to catch the first peek of the mass of people parading down Washington Avenue, lit candles in hand and singing holiday tunes, making their way to the bottom of the hill.
The Golden Visitors Center, located near 10th Street and Washington Avenue, serves as a community hub during the Candlelight Walk. Prior to the walk, people stopped in to warm up for few minutes — and purchase this year's holiday tree ornaments.
Leadership Golden always picks something that is “near and dear to Golden” for the ornaments, said artist Julie Leidel.
Leidel, who moved to Evergreen this past summer, but lived in Golden for about six years before that, digitally created the print of Heritage Square for this year's ornaments.
“Most of my artwork is inspired by the past,” she said, adding that along with her other artwork, she has painted at least 50 different scenes from Colorado.
Ornament sales benefit Leadership Golden, a program that started in 1985 to get people involved and become civic leaders in the Golden community.
“The classes are really interesting. People are always inspired … and they learn a lot,” said Bill McKee, president of the board of directors for the Leadership Golden Alumni Association. “There's very few who go through the program and don't get involved in some way afterwards. We have a very high success rate.”
Back outside the visitors' center, The Golden Hayride was setting up to host Santa and Mrs. Claus, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan and eight-year-old Aaron Hewitt.
Hewitt was the “Light the Lights” contest winner and got to flip the switch with the mayor to turn the lights on in downtown Golden.
It was so exciting, Hewitt said. “Everybody was watching, and I got to flip the switch.”
The Hewitts are long-time Golden residents, and Aaron loves to take walks along Clear Creek — especially in the winter once it's all lit up, he said.
Flipping the switch is something Hewitt will never forget, he said, adding he has never gotten picked for anything before, such as school functions.
“This is the first time I got to do something,” he said. “It feels really great.”
To the left of where the Golden Hayride hosted the main event, the Golden Lions Club was helping people warm up with hot cider.
Lions have been involved with the walk and other Golden festivities for many, many years, said Golden Lion Judd Dickey.
This year, he enjoyed handing the cider to “all sorts of people with big smiles on their faces,” he said. “It's just plain fun.”
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