Holiday tradition brings community together

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Since 1911, the Hometown Christmas celebration has brought people together for an evening of lights, caroling and Santa Claus. First celebrated after the city’s incorporation, the community event is a tradition marking the beginning of the holiday season.

“In 1923 Doc and Laura Shipman planted a five-and-a-half foot tree to serve as the hometown Christmas tree. Residents continued to decorate the tree until World War II when outside lights were not allowed,” said Elaine Egan with the Westminster Historical Society. “The tradition was set aside until the Westminster Historical Society renewed it in 1987. The tree is now over 65 feet tall.”

This year’s celebration will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at Fireman’s Park, next to Westminster Fire Station No. 1, 3948 W. 73rd Ave. The pinnacle of the evening will be the Christmas tree lighting, which will be done this year by former mayor Nancy McNally. Egan said the first tree lighting honorees in 1987 were members of the Shipman family followed by other longtime Westminster residents like George Hovorka and Sharon and Butch Arnold in later years.

The evening will also feature a performance from the Adams County School District 50 choir and a visit from Santa Claus, who will arrive by fire truck. Egan said the grass-roots event is definitely a community effort with the help of Westminster firefighters who help decorate the top of the tree.

“There is a community feeling while gathered around the tree. We get to hear songs of the season by the Shaw Heights Middle School choir,” Egan said. “It’s especially fun to see the kids’ eyes light up when the switch is flipped — and then Santa arrives on the fire truck to complete the festivities.”

Refreshments including bratwursts, hot chocolate and apple cider prepared by Boy Scouts will be available for purchase and as well as photos with Santa. For more information, contact Egan at westminsterhistory@qwestoffice.net.

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