Tis the season | AspenTimes.com

Tis the season

Abby Margulis
Special to the Sun

Christmas decorations were already up at the Snowmass Chapel on Dec. 2. The chapel, with the help of numerous community sponsors, is hosting a Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 8.

Snowmass Village will kick off the holiday season by lighting as many as 20 spruce trees on Brush Creek Road this weekend.

The first annual Snowmass Village Tree Lighting Ceremony will feature holiday music, hot cocoa, cookies and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, according to a statement. Following the tree lighting, 99 members of the Aspen Choral Society will sing Handel's "Messiah," their first time as a chorus performing in Snowmass Village.

A group of Snowmass Chapel staff members came together toward the end of October and decided to organize a communitywide tree-lighting ceremony, said Charla Belinski, chapel director of children, youth and families. Within the first day of the event going public, the chapel raised half of the money needed to purchase lights and the labor to hang the lights on the trees. By the end of the week, all the lights were paid for, and the chapel's goal of raising $7,000 was met.

"It will be a unique opportunity to welcome the skiers, visitors and locals (to Snowmass)," Belinski said. "(We wanted to) create this awesome winter wonderland for people."

The entire community has pitched in to sponsor and light the trees. The Snowmass Wildcat Fire Protection District and Anderson Ranch Arts Center are decorating the parking lot, while Snowmass Lawn and Plant and Aspen Lawn and Holiday Lights are hanging the lights for the rest of the trees, Belinski said.

Many local businesses and individuals have sponsored a tree. Thirteen trees had been sponsored as of Dec. 3, but Belinski and Kara Gilbert, another chapel staff member, expect a few more to be sponsored by the end of the week. Some trees were sponsored in memory or honor of a loved one, and for each tree donated, the sponsor will be recognized with a plaque thanking the business or individual for making the village brighter.

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In the future, Gilbert envisions the tree lighting growing into a winter wonderland display where companies in town can build different displays that people can walk through.

"Snowmass Village has such a quaint, family atmosphere, and I envision something for kids and families to come to where it's like a little Christmas village within Snowmass," Gilbert said.

The annual Aspen Sardy House Tree Lighting inspired the Snowmass event.

"It's a great way to kick off the holiday season and bring the whole community together to do it," Belinski said. "It will be fun, and (we're) lighting up the night."

Abby Margulis is an editorial intern working at The Aspen Times. She is a junior at DePauw University in Indiana.