Lighting the Fallon Christmas tree |

Lighting the Fallon Christmas tree

Steve Ranson
City crews spent a week preparing this 50-foot white fir tree for tonight's Christmas tree lighting.

The traditional lighting of Fallon’s Christmas tree has been an event where residents of all ages have a story to tell … ranging from little ones remembering Santa to children and adults bundled in layers of clothing to singing during an early December snowstorm.

A tradition since 1929, the tree lighting at the downtown fountain officially signals the beginning of the Yuletide season in Fallon and also attracts hundreds of people to share with the merriment of seeing Santa Claus handing out candy canes and taking notes of who has been naughty or nice.

Prior to Friday’s 6 p.m. lighting, carolers will sing Christmas songs, and the city of Fallon will host an open house at the Douglass House and City Hall.

Mayor Ken Tedford said he enjoys the annual event and likes to see the excited faces of the children waiting to meet Santa.

“We try to enrich it each year,” Tedford said. “We added snow and then we added fireworks just to make it fun and festive. Everyone enjoys it so much no matter how cold it is.”

Music will fill the air with the sounds of the season.

“We’ll have the men’s choir for the first time in a number of years from the Lahontan Valley Choir, and it will be great to have them,” said Judy Pratt, a longtime organizer of the tree lighting ceremony.

She said the high school choir under the direction of Tom Fleming will also perform in addition to carolers from the middle school.

For the first time in the history of the tree lighting, Pratt said a dance group from Oasis Academy will perform on the south side of the tree.

“It will be nice to see the community come out and have an excellent time,” Pratt said.

Although freezing weather will greet the downtown revelers, she said the Masons will hand out free hot chocolate and the student council from the middle school will hand out candy canes.

The evening wouldn’t be complete without a special guest lighting the tree.

Pratt said retired Nevada State Sen. Mike McGinness will push the plunger that will illuminate 10,000 lights that wrap around the 50-foot white fir tree. McGinness had a distinguished career as a school board trustee, assemblyman and state senator, serves as manager of KVLV Radio and belonged to the Nevada Air National Guard for six years in the early 1970s.

Afterward, parents can bring their youngsters to meet Santa.

Pratt said parents can bring their own camera to take pictures with St. Nick with the colorful tree in the background.

The tree was obtained from Milt Holstrom near Sierraville, Calif., which has been providing Fallon with a tree for more than 30 years. It takes city crews about approximately a week to string the lights and spruce up the tree for tonight’s event.

Other holiday events this weekend …

Open House at City Hall and The Douglass House will be tonight from 4-5:45 p.m. Mayor Ken Tedford and Fallon City Council members Bob Erickson, Kelly Frost and James Richardson will be present for a meet and greet. 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. Check out the Arts Center’s new exhibits.

Join the Sagebrush Sisters Artist Co-op for the annual Christmas Art and Crafts Boutique at the historic Old Post Office on Friday from 3-8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Churchill County Middle School Christmas Craft Fair is today from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is $1. The location is 650 S. Maine St.

The Fallon Elks Craft Fair is Saturday between at 93 W. Center St.

Local Youth are hosting a SERRV sale on Saturday to benefit those in need here and around the world. Come to Epworth United Methodist Church’s Wolf Center (457 Esmeralda St.) from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., to buy beautiful, high-quality handcrafted items, decorative and wearable, from across the globe. Cash only.

Lights of Christmas is Saturday from 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. at 457 Esmeralda St. Tree auction is at 4 p.m.

The sixth annual Iron Order Kids Fallon Toy Run — co-sponsored by the American Legion — is Saturday. Registration starts at 9 a.m., and the run begins at 10:30 a.m., starting from Tu Brothers Motor Sports, 2040 Reno Highway. Cost of entry is one new unwrapped toy per bike/vehicle. Toy donations will be given to the Marine Corps High Desert Detachment for Toys for Tots and cash donations to the Fallon Youth Club.