Silver & Snowflakes: Celebrating 35 years of creating Christmas joy

More than 400 fifth graders will be singing holiday songs on the Capitol steps Dec. 1.

More than 400 fifth graders will be singing holiday songs on the Capitol steps Dec. 1.

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The Silver and Snowflakes Festival of Lights was born out of darkness, the darkness that was brought about due to the ongoing oil crisis that had been crippling the country for years.

Carson City’s residents were weary of joyless and lightless holidays to conserve energy and decided it was time to bring a bit of light and joy back into the holiday season.

While the tree lighting tradition on the Capitol grounds had been around since 1914, a group of Santa’s helpers, organized by Marily Lewis, decided to go beyond just the simple lighting of one capital Christmas tree and by 1990, the first young voices of our school children caroling on the Capitol steps were heard.

Today, those first 43 children’s voices from Grace Bordewich-Bray Elementary choir have grown to more than 400 melodious fifth grade carolers from all the local elementary schools belting out beloved holiday tunes sung in the enthusiastic way only fifth graders can.

As the Grinch continues to declare, “Blast this Christmas music. It’s joyful and triumphant,” and our city was once again full of light and joy to the delight of those living in “Carsonville.” The lights haven’t gone out since.

Today’s celebration continues to take on a life of its own as the festival grows and grows.

The area fifth graders remain the undisputed stars of the event with the actual lighting of the trees on the Capitol grounds a close second. Closely following is the appearance of Santa and the Grinch. Then there’s the free Borges’ electric carriage rides that have become quite the attraction. The Sheriff’s Mounted Unit and its beautiful horses decked out in holidays light always delight everyone along with the lighted firetrucks and the Sheriff’s Car 54. The high school student carolers roam the streets, perform on McFadden Plaza, and stop in restaurants to sing a carol or two sometimes making diners misty eyed and longing for the days of yore.

New this year will be the appearance of the talented Hilltop Church Rock Band giving an upbeat performance of its versions of many beloved Christmas carols aboard their flatbed stage to rock our city.

While the first Friday of December is always a memorable occasion, the trees remain lit until the New Year allowing all to enjoy the giant snowflakes lighting our way through town and wandering among the beautifully decorated state Capitol grounds where thousands of lights have been carefully strung by an enthusiastic and hard-working state buildings and grounds crew who delight in hearing the first “oohs and aahs” of the appreciative crowd when our governor and first lady pull the switch to light the way to Christmas.

This year, with the assistance of our friends at the Brewery Arts Center, we’ll have better sound that should fill almost the entire downtown and, as an added first-time feature, we’ll be erecting a video wall for those not able to score a spot right up front see making the event even more pleasurable. There’s better lighting too to shine on the kids.

Come join us on Friday, Dec. 1 as the city kicks off the holiday season. The festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with free sleigh rides. The children begin the program at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to make your dinner reservation after 6:30 p.m. and remember to book early. Be sure to stay downtown and enjoy this beautiful kick-off to the season.


Friday, Dec. 1

Carson Street will be closed from 3:30-8 p.m. between Robinson and Fifth streets.

Curry and Stewart streets will remain open.

  • 4:30-5:30 p.m. Free electric sleigh rides
  • 5:30 p.m. Tree Lighting Ceremony at the state Capitol grounds featuring 400 Carson City fifth grade music students
  • 6 p.m. State tree lighting; all of Carson Street is lit up
  • 6:15-8 p.m. Festivities continue in the downtown
    • Free electric sleigh rides until 7 p.m.
    • Photos with Santa & Grinch @ McFadden Plaza
    • Hot cocoa - Holiday with a Hero fundraiser.
    • Two locations: City Hall & McFadden Plaza
    • CCSO Car 54 & Warren Engine Co., fire engine on display on Carson Street
    • The Hilltop Church Rock Band plays upbeat holiday tunes on a flatbed on Carson Street

Caroling at the McFadden Plaza Stage:
6:15-6:45 p.m. Carson High School choir
6:45-7:15 p.m. Carson City Symphony Youth Chorus & Chamber Singers
7:15- 7:45 p.m. Sierra Lutheran High School choir
Caroling through the downtown at various locations including restaurants

The Alatte Coffee and Wine Deli at the Carson Nugget will be serving free hot cocoa from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday.

8 p.m. Carson Street reopens


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