Coffee cups, Santa hats and warm mittens and scarves took over the Capitol Grounds as hundreds gathered for the annual Silver and Snowflakes Festival of Lights in downtown Carson City Friday.
The Carson City tradition kicked off with a small festival of booths featuring local foods, vendors and organizations at Telegraph Square at 4 p.m. Many of the organizations had activities or hot chocolate for kids who came by.
“I grew up in Carson City so it is good to be where the people are going to be and do our part,” said Stephanie Cook.
At the First Presbyterian Church, Empty Bowls held its event where patrons could buy a bowl and get some soup to raise money for hunger awareness.
Starting at 5:30 p.m., the festivities moved to the Capitol Grounds where Carson City fifth-graders, clad in Santa hats and red glowsticks, sang Christmas carols on the steps of the Capitol. Classics like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” filled the crisp Carson City air. Santa Claus even joined the kids in singing some songs.
Local dignitaries such as Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson, Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill and Mayor Robert Crowell spoke about the spirit of the holiday the capitol tree brings. Crowell also talked about how this holiday season, residents need to remember those who may need help.
“Tonight, we formally begin the Christmas season in our community,” said Crowell. “But as we share in tonight’s festivities, let us remember that there are those in the community who are going through difficult and trying times. So as we celebrate tonight, let us also remember to lend a hand to those in need, to spread the joy of Christmas across our entire community so that we may all share in the goodwill our community has to offer.
“Let us now light up our hearts as we light up our city and wish everyone a Merry Christmas,” Crowell added.
The three political figures all helped flip the switch to wash the Capitol Grounds in hundreds of lights around the building, on the trees, and of course on the capitol Christmas tree.
“I can’t wait to see all the beautiful lights,” said 9-year-old Rylee Beach.
Her younger sister Ragan, 4, agreed the lights were the best part of the family tradition of coming to the festival.
Many parents took their kids to the festival as a way to keep a fun Carson City tradition for their kids.
“We came out just to celebrate and it is fun to get out of the house as a family so we aren’t just sitting around all the time,” said Lara Rhynes.
It took crews nearly three weeks to set up all of the lights, washing the Capitol Building and downtown Carson aglow with lit candy canes, reindeer and garland. As the tree was being lit, the 5th graders sang “Oh Christmas Tree” and then invited the crowd to sing along to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
After the lighting of the capitol tree, patrons also walked over to the Musser Street First Presbyterian Church where the mayor also lit the city tree.
Children young and old then went back to Telegraph Square to enjoy the vendors lining the streets and to get a special treat from Santa.