A long-standing tradition that brings the community together focuses on the annual Christmas Tree lighting.
A tradition that dates to 1929 continues tonight at 6 p.m. despite the freezing temperatures. Hundreds of residents will crowd Maine Street to watch the 50-foot white fir Christmas tree light up.
“It’s one of the best traditions our city has,” Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. said. “It’s starts the holiday season off right and gets the community involved.”
Tedford said between 800-1,000 residents typically attend the event and are proud and seem TO enjoy the tree lighting no matter how cold it is outside. He said the Christmas season is a great time of year as it brings the community together and shows the caring side of residents.
“The tree shows the spirit of the holiday season and all of the joy and caring that goes along with it,” Tedford said.
The lighting of the tree is the highlighted event with a full slate of other activities planned for the evening.
The forecast is calling for temperatures in the 30s during the day that will drop to the teens at night.
Judy Pratt, event organizer, said residents who are participating need to make sure they dress appropriately for the weather.
“With temperatures dropping low in the evening, we encourage residents to bundle up to make sure they stay warm during the event,” Pratt said. “Hot chocolate will be provided but that only does so much to keep you warm.”
The 50-foot white fir tree was obtained from Milt Holstrom near Sierraville, Calif., who has been providing Fallon with a tree for more than 30 years. The tree is fitted with almost 10,000 lights, and it takes approximately one to two weeks to prepare the tree show.
City Administrative Assistant Valerie Lightfoot has fond memories of the tree lighting. She said she and her son enjoy attending the lighting of the tree.
“Those are memories that we’ll always share,” Lightfoot said. “It’s great to see the community come together to enjoy such a special moment to our city.”
Lightfoot said the lighting is such an important day for the community that it is an event that pulls all residents together and it helps bring out the Christmas spirit.
This year the pioneer guest who will have the honor to “push the plunger” will be Ed Arciniega. Pratt said when selecting the pioneer to “push the plunger,” she said much thought goes into it.
“I look at longtime residents who have been active in and contributed to our community,” Pratt said. “Ed fit that bill. He has been involved and positively influenced so many students throughout his years in education and in athletics. What better local to have do it, than him.”
The mayor explained how the lightning process began.
“A lot of residents don’t believe that the plunger is an actually plunger that was use to detonate dynamite, but it is,” Tedford said.
Another tradition during the lighting is the plunger to light the tree. Tedford said the late Dennis Heck, a city employee, re-manufactured the plunger so it would actually light the tree.
“Dennis was a great guy, very smart and down to earth,” Tedford said. “He’s missed.”
Along with the tree lighting, the high school choir will be performing under Tom Fleming’s direction, the Masons will provide free hot chocolate and cookies and Santa makes a visit and will be ready to take pictures and pass out candy canes.
“Everything during the event will be free, parents can bring their own camera to take pictures with Santa,” Pratt said. “The lighting represents a time of giving and community members coming together to celebrate with one another.”
Open House at City Hall and The Douglass House will be tonight from 4-7 p.m. Tedford and the Fallon City Council — Bob Erickson, Rachel Dahl and James Richardson — will host a meet-and-greet and are willing to answer any questions from residents. Residents are invited to tour City Hall and The Douglass house, and refreshments will be provided.
Holiday Art Bar and open house hosted by the Churchill Arts Council is tonight at Oats Park Arts Center from 5-9 p.m. Several exhibits will be on display including new exhibits from Gordon McConnell and Jane Waggoner Deschner. Great Basin Brewing Company will be offering selections of their brews. Residents can also shop a wide selection of art and other items for everyone on their Christmas list from The Charts Store.
The Sagebrush Sisters annual Holiday Art Show and Sale offers residents the opportunity to peruse local art and other handmade items perfect for holiday gifts. There will be many unique gifts, homemade goodies and music by Fallon guitar player Charlie Gomes. Today the event is open from 3-8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Churchill County Middle School will hold its annual Christmas Craft Fair today and Saturday. Today from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. This event is also a fundraiser for Shelly Hubbard, CCMS and the sorority Alpha Theta. Raffle prizes are $1 per ticket or six tickets for $5. Admission is $1 for adults and children under 6 are free.
The American Legion Auxiliary will be holding a Christmas Craft Fair on Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 90 N. Ada St.
United Methodist Women are having their annual Christmas bazaar and treasure sale on Sunday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Fireside Room of Epworth United Methodist Church.
Lights of Christmas will be held Saturday at the Churchill County Museum beginning at noon with the auction to follow at 6 p.m. About 60 fully decorated live Christmas trees will be auctioned to raise money to support Toys for Tots and other local charities. Participants are asked to bring two can goods or $1 for admission. Picture opportunities will be provided with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Grinch.