Yo! Let There Be Lights

The lights come on as Denver gears up for the holidays.

The city will give new meaning to the term "bling-bling" when it flips the switches on 500,000 jewel-like lights during the Downtown Denver Holiday Lighting ceremony this weekend. But don't worry: There's nothing gangsta about it.

The local custom, presented by the RTD, the Downtown Denver Partnership and Larimer Square, is more about cozy than cool. "Denver has traditionally been a gathering point for families to come," says Larimer Square's Kirsten Becker.

And unlike in past years, when gleeful gawkers had to choose one place to watch as historic sites became illuminated, this year will provide a sequential triple play of sparkle. The three-part event will begin at Civic Center station around 6 p.m. Saturday, as a trolley wrapped with carolers rolls along the 16th Street Mall. As it passes each block, lights will blaze on.

Once the jolly trolley crew reaches Union Station, that edifice, too, will be bathed in white brilliance. The Christmas caravan will finish up at Larimer Square, where an illuminated canopy will cover the entire block between 14th and 15th streets, and a thirty-foot tree -- "the grandest in Denver," says Becker -- will tower mid-block.

But the Larimer lights won't just happen. Oh, no. A "special guest" will push the button. Folks will probably recognize the jolly old fellow with his red suit, beard and...no, not City Auditor Dennis Gallagher. Santa Claus! And the wee ones may want to pay a visit to Papa Noel after he's turned on the final batch of bulbs.

"There aren't many opportunities in downtown Denver for children to see Santa," Becker notes.

Meanwhile, folks can bask in the glow as performers in Dickens-era regalia belt out more carols.

Forget the cold. The brilliance of the display will fire up the evening -- and since that glow won't fade until New Year's Day, the beauty of the lights can be enjoyed throughout the holiday season.

So pack up the sleigh and head downtown, where, as Petula Clark once sang, "all the lights are bright." And get ready for some serious bling action.

 
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