Santa Claus came to town with his wife for Nevada’s and Carson City’s seasonal tree lighting ceremonies, delighting old and young alike despite numbing cold.
The red-clad pair arrived in a Warren Engine Co. fire truck, dispensing candy canes to a crowd that had been growing for 30 minutes prior to the 5:30 p.m. start. Well before that, Robert and Kathleen O’Neill of Washoe Valley had arrived so early they were ensconced in camping chairs with a blanket on their laps in the front row before the podium and downtown State Capitol steps.
With them was Rebecca Craghill of Carson City, their daughter, and the trio awaited songs by fifth-graders that included Craghill’s own daughter, Morgan. She was one of about 300 on hand to sing for the event, and their music teachers were on hand to shepherd them through the evening’s festivities.
Among those teachers was Carla Sims, who teaches music at Fritsch Elementary School. She said it was her 10th year.
“It is fun,” she said, acknowledging the down side was a temperature in the 20s. But she liked the snow, recalling some years it has been barren and others that were marred by rain.
“I think the highlight every year is the lighting of the tree,” she said. “The kids just go: ‘Ahhh!’”
The fifth-grade kids sang four holiday songs, including an appropriate kickoff with “Winter Wonderland” before Mayor Robert Crowell provided a hearty greeting to the packed crowd, He also gave a shout out to all appropriate constituencies — in town and elsewhere — before lighting the state trees in front of the Capitol building.
“Merry Christmas, Nevada; merry Christmas, Carson City,” he almost bellowed. He urged all to count their blessings, enjoy family, help those in need and remember military personnel far from home, some in harm’s way during the holiday period.
The evening’s event, called the Silver & Snowflakes Festival of Lights downtown, also included the lighting of the city tree near the First Presbyterian Church at Musser and Nevada streets. The fifth-graders — who also had done renditions of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” interspersed with “Angels We Have Heard on High” — gave way to caroling by Battle Born Civil War Re-enactors.
The procession that came from the Capitol to the church for the lighting of the city’s tree there next moved on to the Arlington Square Ice Skating Rink across Carson Street from the Carson Nugget. There were skate-related activities there. Folks could take a whirl for just $4, enjoy food and watch a special figure skating performance as well.