Leadville holiday tradition returns

A Leadville winter tradition returns this weekend. It’s a display of Christmas cheer, bright lights, small-town panache and historic homes, starting Friday at 6 p.m. with the Parade of Lights and ending Saturday with the Leadville Holiday Victorian Homes Tour.

Put on every year by the Leadville Chamber of Commerce, this holiday weekend is a great time to visit the city at its most spirited. The Parade of Lights begins after the sun sets and illuminates Harrison Avenue as people and floats march across downtown decked with brightly shining bulbs. Even flamethrowers have been known to show up in the past!

Mayor Greg Labbe will announce the parade. Floats will be judged in three categories  commercial, nonprofit and pedestrian  with awards presented to the best of each. Bringing up the rear of the cavalcade will be guests of honor, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, riding in their sleigh.

After the procession has landed in front of the county courthouse, the Clauses will disembark and make their way into the courthouse foyer to greet children. The line of children will no doubt spill out onto the lawn, where free hot chocolate and cookies will be doled out as the youngsters make their way inside to meet the couple and impart their wishes upon the red-velvet duo.

The Clauses make this early stop in the lower 48’s highest city every year while on their practice run for the big day. “I love Leadville, and it deserves to have my wife and I at our best before the big push,” said Claus, “when we can visit without being hassled about making our next appearance.”

The next day brings the Victorian Homes Tour. Leadville boasts well-preserved architectural examples  Queen Annes and Sticks and Shingles  and this is a chance to get inside some of them when they’re warmed up and welcoming. What’s more, the homes will also have entertainment, like singing, flute and piano music, and a photography wall.

“This year, there’s even a mining shack on the tour,” says Chamber of Commerce Director Carol Glenn.

Those who want in on some of the 19th century action can call the chamber at 719-486-3900 to purchase a ticket for $25. Registration for ticket-holders begins at noon Saturday Dec. 2 at the Tabor Opera House. Touring vans will depart at 1:30 p.m. and return at 5 p.m.

The Chamber of Commerce will round out the weekend with a window decoration contest encouraging inhabitants of commercial and residential buildings to build their best holiday display. The chamber will accept nominations until Dec. 13, when prizes will be awarded.

Celebrate the coming of the holiday season in Leadville. When the music plays and the parade begins, it feels like a step back in time. “When I moved to Leadville, these events were some of my favorite little things about it,” the mayor said. Take it from him  a home in Leadville just might be what Santa brings you this year.