Rule the Yule

Christmas Day has plenty for the restless to unwrap.

There's nothing worse than awakening from a long winter's nap, rolling out of bed and discovering it's Christmas morning -- and not a creature is stirring his coffee, not even at Starbucks. But you'd better not cry, and you don't need to pout, because plenty of holiday hoopla is available today. So get your jollies, and jingle a little, too.

Shake off those Christmas Day blues and dive into some black -- coffee, that is -- at the Waffle House. This franchise boasts of having served some 442 million waffles nationwide since 1955. Go ahead and indulge, because days like today were made for vices. Santa will consume his high carbs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at various outlets, while gorgers groove to official Waffle House Christmas tunes. Call the hotline at 1-877-9-WAFFLE or go to www.wafflehouse.com for information and Front Range locations.

Afterward, you can ditch the Claus-induced calories and that extra side of grits at the Denver Skate Park, which is open every day from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. The 50,000 square feet of cement bowls and urban terrain is sure to be full of skate crews demonstrating their mad skillz and test-driving their recently unwrapped grinding gear. Designed in part by middle- and high-school students from Denver Public Schools, the park is the largest free public skate facility in the nation and is a bona fide smackdown of shredded tricks and elbows. This play pit is in the Platte Valley, just north of Commons Park, at 2205 19th Street; for details, go to www.denvergov.org/South_Platte_Denver_Parks.

As the sun starts to sink, prepare yourself for an untamed night, starting with Wildlights at the Denver Zoo, where thousands of twinkling, animated light sculptures illuminate the nocturnal paths of the animal kingdom. Peddlers offer hot cocoa, roasted chestnuts and kettle corn for guests to nosh on while they enjoy the offerings of strolling storytellers and holiday carolers or eye the animal ice sculptures in the Conoco Zoo Gardens. To psychedelically enhance your critter trek, contribute a non-perishable food donation to 9Cares Colorado Shares at the gate and receive a free pair of 3-D glasses, which will help anyone trip the lights fantastic. The Denver Zoo is at 2300 Steele Street; Wildlights is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. nightly until January 2, and admission is $4 to $7. Call the zooline at 303-376-4800 or visit www.denverzoo.org.

Keep the trippy glasses, and burn rubber to Bandimere Speedway for MileHighLights, a drive-through holiday light show. Blast the heat and your favorite Iggy and the Stooges tune as you cruise the two-mile looping racetrack. Zapping twelve million watts of power to its lights, Bandimere has decked itself out as a winter thunderland, with displays that celebrate everything from Hanukkah to Kwanzaa. The speedway is off C-470 at the Morrison Road exit, and it will shine nightly from 5 to 11 p.m. through January 2. Admission is $14.95 per car; a portion of the proceeds benefit the Denver Rescue Mission. Call 303-380-3333 or visit www.milehighlights.com to find out more.

And if all else fails, head to the bar.

The High Street Speakeasy, 3862 High Street, will host its second annual Pajama Jam tonight from 7 p.m. until the fat elf sings. The neighborhood watering hole plans to get down and dirty with high-spirited games of Trivial Pursuit, Jenga and Pictionary. PJ'd patrons will also be offered Wild Turkey and Jäger drink specials to help them achieve that special holiday glow. (For info, call 303-298-9333 or go to www.highstreetspeakeasy.com.)

"We definitely encourage pajamas and robes," says owner John Wallace, "and we'll hang some mistletoe to help create the perfect atmosphere." Ho-ho-whoa!

 
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