No one truly intends to end up looking like that borbous turkey gracing the Thanksgiving table, but, hey, fat happens. It's only once a year, though, so pack it in: Pile on the buttery mashers and say yes to the extra piece of pumpkin pie, especially if you plan to feel the burn this morning at the City of Aurora's annual Huff-n-Puff-Before-You-Stuff. From 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Beck Recreation Center, 800 Telluride Street, conscientious feasters ages twelve and older can partake in a variety of fitness activities, from aerobics to weightlifting, all for the price of a donation of cash, personal hygiene items or two cans of food. Afterward, you can go home and stuff your small, slim face. Call 303-326-8650 or visit www.auroragov.org/recreation.
Others will opt for the closest thing Denver has to a Thanksgiving classic: the Mile High United Way Turkey Trot. The family-style four-mile run/walk and one-mile fun run in the crisp, autumnal confines of Washington Park cuts loose at 10:15 this morning from the south end of the park, near Louisiana Avenue and Franklin Street. This year, the event's 32nd, time chips will be available for all you Type A runners with something to prove; the rest of you can saunter at your own pace, sans chip, sneaking a peek at the finish-line time clocks should you so desire. Registration fees range from $15 to $30; sign up in advance online at www.active.com, or at the park from 8 to 10 a.m. on race day.
Friday, November 25
The evil task of holiday shopping can no longer be put off. But there's no reason to allow yourself to get mauled at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. Leave that to the desperate and the unimaginative. Instead, pick up something worthwhile for the discerning art lover in your life -- who could, after all, be yourself -- at Joshua Hassel's Monaco Art House, 660 South Monaco Parkway. The local art collector, consultant and gallery curator will throw open the doors to his private collection of works by regional and international artists. Hassel's art sale will last two days only, today and tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; call 720-732-1992 for details.
Downtown is the place to be this evening for the starry-eyed: The entire district, from the City and County Building to Union Station, will be set a-twinkling when the switches are flipped on for a 6:30 p.m. Downtown Denver Holiday Lighting Ceremony. Included in the festivities are the aforementioned venues, as well as all of the 16th Street Mall, Skyline Park, Larimer Square, the Tabor Center and the Denver Pavilions. At the latter, you can also be one of the first to peruse the Urban Tree Lot, downtown's only Christmas-tree vendor, which specializes in greenery for urban dwellers. Park yourself at your favorite locale and join in the countdown; for information, call 303-571-8200 or go to www.downtowndenver.com.
While you're downtown and all full of the spirit of the season, stay a while for the first performance of the Denver Center Theatre Company's brand-new, all-original musical version of A Christmas Carol, which opens for a preview tonight at 8 p.m. at the Stage Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Or join Scrooge, Tiny Tim and that whole pack of ghosts in the lush staging during performances scheduled daily, except Mondays, through December 24. The production isn't recommended for children under the age of six; for tickets, $29 to $45, call 303-893-4100 or 1-866-464-2626, or visit www.denvercenter.org.
Saturday, November 26
Forget the pies and cookies; there's no sweeter way to top off the weekend than to spend Thanksgiving With Tish Hinojosa, the Tejana songstress whose Latin-tinged folk-and-roots musical blend is all sewn up into a beautiful package ornamented by her lovely voice. Hinojosa almost always makes the stop this time of year at Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue; tickets to tonight's 8 p.m. show are $21 to $24. Call 303-777-1003 or visit www.swallowhill.com.
Sunday, November 27
Hanukkah runs neck-and-neck with Christmas this year, allowing equal shopping time for those of the Jewish faith, who have until Christmas night to buy and wrap their gifts. One of the first stops on the shopping itinerary might be the Leah Cohen Festival of Jewish Books and Authors, the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture's annual holiday book sale (with accompanying author events), which opens today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The market continues daily except Saturdays through December 18 at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 South Dahlia Street. Hundreds of titles, from bubbe's-kitchen cookbooks and fiction to memoirs and children's folk tales, will be available for browsing. Author signings -- beginning with tonight's 7 p.m. discussion with Nuremberg court reporter Vivian Spitz about her book, Doctors From Hell: The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans -- will also include Denver Art Museum expansion architect Daniel Libeskind, novelists Ellen Feldman and Michael Lavigne, and master storyteller Eric Kimmel, among others. Admission to the ongoing sale is free; tickets to author events are $5 to $10 for most events (or $36 for a five-author pass); call 303-316-6360 or log on to www.mizelcenter.org/literary.htm for details and reservations.
Monday, Novmeber 28
Experience eclectic gift shopping of the very best kind at the Foothills Art Center Holiday Art Market, a yearly event that's always worth the trek to Golden. Featuring fine art, jewelry, pottery and crafts by nearly 200 artists, the sale is open daily, with the exception of Christmas Day, through December 30; the center is at 809 15th Street in Golden. Call 303-279-3922 or visit www.foothillsartcenter.org. Ditto for the juried Lakewood Cultural Center Holiday Gift Show and Sale, a smaller but no less select display of works by Colorado artists and artisans. That sale continues weekdays and Saturdays and during all performances at the center, 470 South Allison Parkway in Lakewood, through December 22. Call 303-987-7875 or go to www.lakewood.org.
Dream visions of your holiday home can become a reality at the Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for ArtReach Inc. that offers more than 150 holiday trees, wreaths, swags, centerpieces and other holiday decor for public viewing at the Wildlife Experience Museum, 10035 South Peoria Street in Parker. Though it's not illegal to pilfer ideas from ArtReach's bodacious displays, you can save yourself the trouble by bidding on the pieces you'd most like to take home with you; online bidding, which is also available, ends tomorrow. The festival runs daily except Mondays through December 4; admission is $3 to $6 (children under five admitted free). Call 303-433-2882 or go to www.artreachdenver.org for details.
Wednesday, Novmeber 30
Look ahead! Where hip-hop, jazz, funk, electronica and improvisational music meet head-on, you'll find a convergence of local music-makers, including bassist Casey Sidwell, keyboardist Greg Raymond, drummer Seth Murphy, percussionist Dameion Hines and saxophonist Dominic Lalli, the house band on Forward Wednesdays, a weekly exploratory musical free-for-all at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln Street. Show your support for the band -- and anyone else who might show up to sit in -- on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m.; for information, call 303-839-5100 or go to www.dazzlejazz.com.