Silver & Snowflakes: The perfect never-fail recipe for creating a beloved holiday tradition

The invaluable team creating holiday magic in front of the Capitol on Dec. 1 is, from left, Kody Munns, State Buildings & Grounds, Christina Bourne, CCSD music lead, and Phil Nemanic, State Building & Grounds and the overall coordinator of the holiday decorations.

The invaluable team creating holiday magic in front of the Capitol on Dec. 1 is, from left, Kody Munns, State Buildings & Grounds, Christina Bourne, CCSD music lead, and Phil Nemanic, State Building & Grounds and the overall coordinator of the holiday decorations.

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Take nine fifth grade Carson City music teachers, add two invaluable State Buildings and Grounds crew, stir in the two Carson City Chamber staff, and you’ve got the basic recipe of what it takes to pull off the beloved holiday event known as Silver & Snowflakes Festival of Lights.

Beginning in September, Chamber staff begin planning for the first Friday in December event by booking major vendors such as Borges Sleigh Rides, sound techs, and of course, Santa and the Grinch. We book those two very early due to their busy schedule.

Beginning in October, Christina Bourne, music educator at Mark Twain Elementary and former Miss Nevada 2001, begins the joyous task of coordinating her fellow music educators who meet to discuss logistics, student safety, and song selection.

Each of the district teachers enjoy directing one of the six songs to be featured before the sing-along. That is also the month students begin learning their songs.

“I try to begin teaching the Christmas songs as early as possible. I only have a 45-minute segment once a week to teach the fifth graders the songs we’ll sing during our 30-minute show and before we know it, it’s time to perform,” Bourne said.

Ronni Hannaman

Mark Twain music educator Christina Bourne teaches a joyous fifth grade class traditional holiday songs.


Students do not have the opportunity to practice with their fellow fifth graders — of which there are 400 this year — from the other schools until the one-time practice session the morning of the event, but you would never know it, since from the moment of the first tune, the kids are in sync as they follow the lead of their teacher.

“The children are so excited to perform, for this has become a rite of passage before entering middle school,” Bourne said.

Having taught in the district for 20 years, Bourne now laughs when she reminisces that she has taught many of the parents and now is teaching their fifth graders.

“For many families, the Silver & Snowflakes Festival has become a family tradition adding to our hometown feel that makes Carson City so special,” she said.

Bourne became the “point person” to coordinate the event when former coordinator Mary Law retired in 2016, but she has been involved in the program since 2003 when she began teaching at Mark Twain, thus the institutional knowledge has been helpful.

Beginning in November, right after taking down the Halloween decorations at the Governor’s Mansion, Phil Nemanic, a member of the State Buildings & Grounds team, goes into overdrive. He is the lead in decorating the Capitol Grounds, overseeing his fellow grounds members including 10 trustees.

His biggest goal is to install the lights before possible foul weather hits.

“Last winter was quite the challenge for my team since the weather was not to our advantage, but we managed to get it all done,” he said.

He, too, is excited about his role in making this tradition better and better. Last year, he surprised us all with his creative wrapping of the thousands of lights adorning trunks and some branches. And, then the biggest surprise of all was the introduction of the lighted archway his crew built that added even more depth. Nemanic is a stickler about the correct spacing of the lights.

“I want all the lights to be wrapped around the tree at the same depth, so it doesn’t look haphazard,” he said.

This year, he is adding to the archway by extending it to the front of the Capitol.

The only regret he has is that his now teenage son Gage was not able to enjoy his rite of passage since there was no live performance in 2020 due to the COVID shutdown.

The Chamber’s primary role is to bring all together to make for a very special night. The event has grown in such popularity organizations are reaching out to make the event larger thus providing the opportunity for a full heartfelt evening downtown.

There are many others involved in making this evening a special one and we’ve listed those below, but it’s the core group who make all “the moving parts come together,” said Bourne. It’s also been more of a challenge each year to assure the safety of the children thus all work closely with the various public safety organization who work well together.

We can’t forget to mention that two of the main ingredients to be mixed into this recipe is the involvement of the State of Nevada and the funding provided by the Carson City Redevelopment Authority to bind the recipe.

When the lights are lit for the first time around 6 p.m. on Dec. 1, know that there have been many hours spent up to the 5:30 p.m. show making it all happen so that our citizens can enjoy a Christmas tradition found only in smaller communities.

Making Silver & Snowflakes Happen:

Our wonderful music teachers:

Dom Van Orman –Seeliger Elementary

Cassidy Robinson – Empire Elementary

Nicole Whitsett -Fritsch Elementary

Alan Catron – Bordewich-Bray Elementary

Ashley Cosens – Fremont Elementary

Christina Bourne - Mark Twain Elementary

Kathy Roide - Saint Teresa of Avila

Shelley Monroe - Carson Montessori

Jamie Gilson - Bethlehem Lutheran

Special Thanks:

Carson City Sheriff’s Office

Capitol Police

CCSO Mounted Unit

Carson City School District

State Buildings & Grounds

Brewery Arts Center

KD Sound

Borges Sleigh Rides

Carson City Public Works

Carson City Redevelopment Authority

Nevada Appeal

Carolers – young and old

Carson City Symphony Youth Choir

Carson City Symphony singers

And all those who might have been missed in this list.


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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