Growing up, I spent at least twenty Decembers covered with pine needles and sticky with sap, working my family's Christmas-tree lot in Scottsdale, Arizona. Even today, the lot is a much loved, and missed, part of my childhood, one that's inextricably linked to my concept of Christmas. I try not to wince when friends string up their plastic Nobles or store-bought Scotch pines: If you can't smell it, if it doesn't require water, it ain't a tree. Tree people know this.
Janele Casanova and her father, Andy Tingirides, are tree people. For more than thirty years, Tingirides has run lots in Los Angeles, importing trees from the Pacific Northwest for beachcombers and valley folk. This year, the father-daughter team decided to set up shop in Denver, where Casanova has lived for the past decade.
"I've got a picture of myself when I was four years old, in the back yard, learning how to flock a Christmas tree," says Casanova. "I've been around it all my life; it's just in my blood."
With her father's help, Casanova now runs the Christmas Tree House, which sits in a heated tent at the corner of Yosemite and Park Meadows Drive. The lot has a community consciousness to match its merchandise: Live musicians, Santa and a kids' jumping booth share the floor with Noble, Fraser, Nordman and Grand firs, which range from small and inexpensive to towering and pricey. The lot is also a donation center for Toys for Tots, and a portion of sales will benefit Tennyson House, a home for abused children.
Put that tree back in the box, and forget the generic chain-link pens outside Home Depot or Wal-Mart. Come to the Christmas Tree House and get a whiff of a new holiday tradition. -- Laura Bond
Fashion thaws the city
Let it Snow, let it Snow, let it Snow.
But not that white, cold, messy stuff. We're talking fashion! Starting at 10 a.m. today, Snow, a "fashion flea market in the Mile High City" comes to Andenken Gallery, 2110 Market Street. There'll be screen-printed T-shirts and bias-cut silk gowns. Whimsical belts and crafty totes. Chunky jewelry and refined blouses.
"When I lived in San Diego, I went to L.A. and San Francisco to do these events called fashion co-ops, which were flea markets filled with local designers," says handbag designer Brandi Shigley. "I found it so inspiring to be among these people with the same creativity and energy that I have. But life brought me back to Denver, and I realized there should be an event like that here."
Denver's style scene has definitely been popping, and more than twenty local designers heeded Shigley's call. While perusing their wares, shoppers can enjoy live DJ beats, fashion shows throughout the day, and an after-party that begins at 7 p.m. It's just $5 to get in, and all the proceeds go to the Denver Rescue Mission.
"We've got super-creative and talented people right here in Denver," Shigley says. "You shouldn't have to go to L.A. or New York to find great fashions."
For more information, visit www.fashiondenver.com. -- Amy Haimerl
While we eagerly await the appearance of the giant blue bear that will soon peer into the Colorado Convention Center, artist William Matthews has given us quite a consolation prize: Colorado Pioneers, an exhibit featuring some of the watercolor studies Matthews did for his own convention-center commission, opens tonight and runs through January 8 at the William Matthews Gallery, 1617 Wazee Street. "When asked to think about what Colorado has meant to me," Matthews explains, "my immediate answer was the people -- the men and women who sought a better life and came here to find it. My goal with these paintings has been to put a face on the history of Colorado." And quite a lovely face it is. For information, call 303-534-1300. -- Patricia Calhoun
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A zydeco battle of the bands
The Colorado Cajun Dance Band's got it in for the Zydeco Honkies, and vice-versa. That's the word from the front, according to the Colorado Friends of Cajun-Zydeco Music and Dance, a group that hosts monthly dances with live music throughout the year. So why not let them duke it out? That should be some kind of spectacle -- because the alter-ego bands seem to be one and the same.
It's merely a matter of semantics and a slight switch of genre: Cajun music belongs to the exiled Acadians of Louisiana, while Zydeco is a Creole invention, but both are guar-on-teed booty-benders. You can have a taste of each at tonight's dance (billed as a year-ending shootout) beginning at 8 p.m. at Washington Park United Methodist Church, 1955 East Arizona Avenue.
Admission is $12 and a non-perishable-food or cash donation for the Denver Interfaith Parish; for information, call 303-745-9577 or go to www.cfcz.org. -- Susan Froyd