By Lucas Vader
This year, following the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays, Pioneer Town is doing something brand new.
Where it has normally been closed for the season before Christmas rolls around, the museum will be celebrating the holidays in full force this year, as Pioneer Town becomes Christmas Town.
Jerry McHugh, vice president of the Surface Creek Valley Historical Society (SCVHS), reported the Christmas Town season will have a grand opening on Nov. 28 and it will be open every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 20 from 4-7 p.m.
“We partnering with the [Cedaredge Area Chamber of Commerce], the town, [Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center], lots of organizations to pull this off,” McHugh said. “This isn’t just Pioneer Town. This is much, much bigger.”
The idea is that, the Old Main Street on display directly past the visitor’s center will be brought to life with vendors and Christmas spirit.
“The Coalby Store here, the country store, the Cedar Mesa Club will have craft items and canned goods and baked goods in there for sale,” McHugh said. “The saloon, [SCVHS is] getting a special license so that we can sell alcohol. We’ll have hot mulled wine and hot cider out of there.”
Every building on the Old Main Street is already spoken for by a vendor. For instance, McHugh recalled that the jailhouse is slated to have a store for kids to buy gifts for their parents. The Austin Depot will serve as “Santa’s workshop.” Local artisans will be in there and the public can see them working on their various crafts, which will then be for sale.
That being said, SVCHS plans to utilize the space behind the Old Main Street for day vendors who would like to participate in the holiday fun. “As long as they let us know a day in advance, we’ll have space for them,” McHugh said.
In fact, the celebration stretches out to the largest evergreen tree on the block, out front of the Chapel of the Cross.
“This isn’t just about Pioneer Town,” McHugh said. “This is about Western Colorado. We are going to light this tree.”
The tree will be the centerpiece for a lineup of live performances, which are planned to take place every weekend day that Christmas Town is open. Those performances are not yet booked all the way through, but they’re so far planning on Cedaredge Elementary School programs and the Montrose Harp Ensemble.
For the task of lighting the tree, McHugh said SCVHS is seeking business sponsorship, as the tree will cost about $2,000 to light due to its sheer size. For other lighting tasks, it’s seeking donations, but SCVHS wants the tree’s lights to match.
Overall, the tree will be a further celebration of the fact that Capitol Tree that’s heading to Washington DC has come from this area this year.
For the boardwalk on Old Main Street, it would be natural to have mismatched decorations, according to McHugh, as that’s just the way it is in real life.
Pioneer Town is also serving as the gathering spot for the Angel Tree Project this year, McHugh said, which is a charitable opportunity to shop and provide gifts for families in need. Gift drop-offs and pick-ups will take place there.
The community will be invited to attend the grand opening of Christmas Town on Nov. 28. The Christmas Tree lighting ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. Until that point, Pioneer Town will be looking for a business sponsor for the tree lighting, as well as individual Christmas light donations for the boardwalk on Old Main Street.
Donations can be dropped off at the welcome center on Tuesday mornings from 10 a.m.-noon. Additional arrangements can be made by emailing email@example.com.
Also, anyone who donates $100 or more toward the event will receive a limited edition Christmas ornament designed by local artist Kathy Wellman, which includes the Christmas Town logo.