Most families observe certain customs during the holiday season: Some are religious, such as lighting the menorah; others aren't, like singing off-tune carols or watching the Rose Bowl. At my house, the ritual was getting decked out in our festive finery -- preferably something velvet -- and traipsing to a local theater to watch Clara and Fritz battle over a toy nutcracker that turns into a prince.
This year, the Downtown Denver Partnership wants to add a few more things to your to-do list before the season is over: ice-skating at the Rink Downtown and celebrating New Year's Eve on the 16th Street Mall with a fireworks display.
"We're trying to make these annual events so that they become a tradition for Denver families," says Anne Warhover, chief executive officer of the Downtown Denver Partnership, which spends more than $1 million to develop and promote holiday goings-on. "This year, we added a lot more lights to our displays and we brought back the fireworks; every year, we're going to do something more. We want people to think that the holidays just aren't complete without a trip to downtown Denver." In addition to the New Year's party, Partnership-sponsored holiday decorations and lights will stay up -- and on -- through the end of the National Western Stock Show in January, another Denver tradition.
After a huge success with the millennium celebration two years ago, the Partnership wasn't able to raise enough money for the fireworks display last year. But after downtown businesses approached them with some funding and the city joined in, they're back and going to be better than ever. "The hotels and restaurants came to us and said please, please do it again," explains Warhover.
To make the evening more family-friendly, the fireworks will be held twice -- once at 10 p.m. and again at the stroke of midnight. "It was the mayor's idea to have two shows; one for people who don't want to stay up till midnight or families with little kids," says Warhover, who is expecting more than 100,000 people to come out for the almost ten-minute show that's choreographed to music.
Everyone knows that kids don't like standing still, so if you're bringing the little ones, head over to the Rink Downtown, at 16th and Arapahoe streets, and strap some skates on their feet. From 8 to 10 p.m., clowns and other family entertainers will be on the ice to keep the kids amused while they're waiting for the big show.
"It's a hard night for families, because most parents don't want to take their kids to a crowded bar or restaurant," says Warhover. "I think it could be a really special night for families to be outside, enjoying each other's company and the festive environment. And ice-skating on New Year's Eve would be very cool." The Rink will stay open until 1 a.m. so that people can skate while they watch the midnight light show.
Finally, don't worry about nabbing the perfect spot on the Mall: From Wynkoop to Broadway, Warhover guarantees that no matter where you stand, the show will knock your earmuffs off. "If you're standing anywhere on the 16th Street Mall, you're going to see some great fireworks," she says. "The night will be the perfect capstone to our holiday season."