Christmasfest Grinch-style

Blue Mountain Inn and Suites will host Breakfast with Santa Saturday, Dec. 15, from 8-10 a.m., in the lobby. A professional photographer will be on site to take photos of Santa with kids of all ages.
Blue Mountain Inn and Suites will host Breakfast with Santa Saturday, Dec. 15, from 8-10 a.m., in the lobby. A professional photographer will be on site to take photos of Santa with kids of all ages.

RANGELY I If this year’s Christmasfest celebrations can survive the Grinch, Rangely residents should have plenty to do the week of Dec. 10. Bertha Tolley, who has helped plan Christmasfest for several years, came up with “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” theme.

Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District (WRBM) aquatic/recreation supervisor and Christmasfest organizer Camilla Kennedy thinks the theme is a fitting one. “I thought the Grinch made sense, given the year we’ve had,” Kennedy said. “With all this nonsense about the world ending and the crankiness in politics, I thought it would be a good theme for this year.”

Most of the events focus on the lighter side of the Dr. Seuss tale, from shopping in “Whoville,” when local businesses are open from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14 to the return of the Snowflake Baby Contest on Saturday, Dec. 15. The week’s activities, organized by the WRBM and sponsored by town organizations and businesses, begin on Monday, Dec. 10. That’s when participants can pick up a scavenger hunt stamp card at the recreation center and follow clues through town, finding the Grinch at local businesses. The first five Whos to return a completed card receive a prize.

On Wednesday, Dec. 12, a team from the recreation center will travel the town to select the winners of this year’s Light Up Rangely contest. First, second, and third place will be awarded to residences and businesses, with $100, $75 and $50 checks given to the town’s best and brightest displays.

The morning of Friday, Dec. 14 kicks off the weekend’s big events. Those entering the gingerbread man decorating contest Saturday afternoon gather at the rec center for a free decorating session from 10-10:45 a.m. Plan to get there on time since space is limited. Friday night is loaded with activities, starting with sleigh rides from Main Street Coffee House. Grinch Avenue caroling and free pictures with the Grinch start up at Colorado CPA Services around 6 p.m. in conjunction with the evening of local shopping. Other businesses holding evening hours are Awesome Blossom, The Salon, True Value, Sweetbriar and Elizabeth Robinson Studio. The evening wraps up around 8 p.m.

Saturday events begin early and don’t end until well after dark. Blue Mountain Inn and Suites will sponsor a Breakfast with Santa from 8-10 a.m., with a free continental breakfast and professional pictures with Santa printed on-site. From there, residents can head to the CNCC’s Colorado Room in the Weiss Center for a craft fair from noon to 5 p.m. Booth space is limited, but vendors can still reserve a table for $20. Items available include wreaths, Kindermusik specials, Paparazzi jewelry, Elizabeth Robinson pottery, and boutique items by Once Upon a Cowgirl to benefit the Rangely Moms group. At 1 p.m., it’s time to judge the previous day’s gingerbread creations, with the Snowflake Baby Contest at 2 p.m. Little ones wear their best winter, holiday or Grinch-related costumes — word has it we’ll be seeing a penguin, a sock monkey and a wrapped present, for starters — with judging in several categories up to age 5. Winners will receive Children’s Place gift certificates. At 4 p.m., the Senior King and Queen will be crowned in the Colorado Room. Vote for your favorite age 65-or-older nominee at boxes around town. Then at 6 p.m. is the annual Parade of Lights, which begins on Stanolind Avenue and finishes at CNCC. Christmasfest events culminate at the Colorado Room at 7:30 p.m., with a chili benefit dinner for Boden Petersburg, grandson of residents Steve and Donna Petersburg, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

“We’d love to have people volunteer to donate chili to the event or bring side items like sour cream, cheese or cornbread,” Kennedy said. The $5 minimum donation per plate includes entertainment: the recreation center ballet students’ dance recital.

Kennedy says that, despite the Grinchiness of the occasion, the event is about bringing the town together for a common purpose. “It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it,” Kennedy said. “I like to see something go on here that benefits the entire town. That was the reaction when we asked for support from the town council, that Christmasfest really is all about Rangely.” To donate food for the chili fundraiser or for more information, contact Kennedy at 675-8211.