Rising high on the city’s iconic Maine Street, the white fir tree towers over downtown Fallon, ready to spread good tidings to all Friday night at the annual tree-lighting ceremony.
Since 1929, the annual tradition of illuminating the tree with colorful lights and having Santa Claus take requests from the children has been a favorite. This year’s tree lighting begins at 6 p.m. and afterward, children visit with Santa, while their parents will be able to take photos of their youngsters.
Prior to the tree lighting, the city of Fallon hosts an open house with refreshments and treats at City Hall and the Douglass House from 4-7 p.m. Mayor Ken Tedford and council members Bob Erickson, Kelly Frost and James Richardson will greet visitors.
Kaitlin Ritchie, the city’s marketing coordinator, said Milt Holstrom in Sierraville, Calif., has supplied the annual tree to the city for the past 31 years, and this year, Ritchie said she was able to help select a 60-foot tree. Before Thanksgiving, city crews erected the tree near the Maine Street fountain and last week, the city used its bucket truck to lift the workers so they could decorate the tree with more than 10,000 lights.
Choir students will sing before the lighting, and afterward, a special Christmas concert begins at 6:15 p.m. at the Fallon Theatres.
According to Judy Pratt, the de Braga family will be the guests of honor to light the tree. Pratt said the de Braga family established its ranch in the Stillwater district more than 100 years ago. In the late 1800s, Joe de Braga, the original owner, moved from the Azores, a group of nine major islands off the western coast of Portugal, to Austin, Nevada.
During the early 1900s, the government completed the Newlands Project, which brought water to the Lahontan Valley for settlers to grow crops. The government then distributed fliers to entice people to come to the Fallon area. Joe and his wife, Marguerite, brought their family to Fallon to begin a new and better life.
Over the years, the de Braga family has kept their ranch in the family, which is now in their fifth generation. In 2017, the Nevada Centennial Ranch and Farm Awards Program recognized the de Braga family for having their ranch in the same family for at least 100 years.
Their son Frank de Braga met and married Goldie, and they built their own life on the ranch until Frank died in 1989. Pratt said Frank de Braga began to run the farm in 1930. Pratt said Frank and Goldie also provided their time and service to their community and during the years, the members of the de Braga family have also volunteered countless hours to youth activities and sports.
Frank de Braga served on the Churchill County Commission, the school board and the Farm Bureau. Goldie became a popular journalist with her weekly column called “Stillwater Notes,” which was published for 70 years.
Pratt said Frank’s son Ted de Braga owns the land that was homesteaded 100 years ago. Representing the de Braga family during the tree lighting will be Lyle, Dennis, Ted and Patty (Weaver). Pratt said their brother Bob will be unable to attend.
Pratt also advises people to dress warmly Friday night as December nights can be chilly. Temperatures are expected to drop into the low to mid 30s.
This is also a big weekend for community volunteering, family activities and craft fairs to celebrate Downtown Christmas.
The local Toys for Tots program will have its truck in downtown Fallon before and after the tree lighting to collect new toys. The truck and volunteers will begin the day at Walmart from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and then return Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The Fallon Rotary Club will be at Kent’s Supply, 260 N. Maine St. all day Friday to collect items for senior citizens
Ritchie said the city is presenting its first wonderland on Saturday from 2-5 p.m. at City Hall.
“We’ve never done this before, but with the letters to Santa’s mailbox this year, we wanted to do something special for the kids,” she said. “We also want to give parents the opportunity to get professional photos done with Santa.”
Ritchie said the photographs will be taken at the Douglass House.
The weekend’s three craft fairs will have an assortment of vendors both from Churchill County and beyond.
The Sagebrush Sisters Fine Arts & Craft Show is Friday and Saturday at the Old Post Office, 90 N. Maine St. The hours are 3-8 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The Churchill County Middle School Christmas Craft Fair at 690 S. Maine St., is also open for two days. The hours are 6-9 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Further down on 952 S. Maine St., the William N. Pennington Life Center is hosting its second annual Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday morning and afternoon will also be busy with activities.
Financial Horizons is having a candy cane hunt at Laura Mills Park on Saturday from 10 a.m.-noon.
Churchill County Museum is having an open house on Saturday from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
A live reindeer program begins at 1 p.m. at the Churchill County Library.
The Lights of Christmas live tree auction and chili cookoff is Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Heritage Arena, 1001 Sheckler Cut Off. Live auction begins at 4 p.m. Lights of Christmas also includes crafts, vendors, food, entertainment and kid zone.
Big Kids Elves are also in need. Join Lights of Christmas on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at the William N. Pennington Life Center to decorate a ginger bread house. All supplies provided. Call Pennington Life Center 755-423-7096 save a spot. There is limited space.