Residents celebrate lighting in Minden |

Residents celebrate lighting in Minden

by Caryn Haller

Shannon LitzEighteen-month-old James Ortiz and Santa Claus in Minden on Friday night.

Christmas arrived in Minden Park on Friday night as the gazebo and tree were lit up for the season.

As Santa Claus led the countdown, Justin Dragoo, 13, and his 10-year-old sister, Tara, waited to flip the switch.

“We were worried maybe they wouldn’t turn on, but in the end it worked great,” Justin said. “It looks really cool, really pretty.”

As a calliope played familiar Christmas tunes, children and adults gathered around fire pits along Esmeralda Avenue to roast marshmallows outside the town office.

With fresh marshmallow on his face 7-year-old Jake Hill said he has been a very good boy this year.

“I’m going to ask Santa for Crayola marker airbrush and an Aquadoodle,” he said.

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Jake and his 5-year-old sister Annie have been coming to the Minden Christmas event since she was a baby.

“I’m going to ask for a Lalaloopsy doll because it’s really cute,” Annie said shyly. “I’ve been a good girl. I help mommy.”

Inside the CVIC Hall, a little more than 200 spaghetti dinners were being served up by the Tahoe-Douglas Elks prior to their annual Christmas tree bingo. The lodge uses the proceeds for senior citizen gift baskets.

Sean and Mickie Ovrid of Gardnerville were anxious for the Christmas tree bingo to begin.

“We’ve been coming to the Elks dinner for as long as they’ve been having it,” Mickie said. “I won two trees in one night the year before last. I’m planning on winning four tonight, one for us and three for our neighbors.”

Inside the C.O.D. Garage, a German marketplace was bustling with 21 booths selling everything from food, to crafts, to jewelry.

Gardnerville resident Dave Pefley sang along with the Christmas music playing overhead as he browsed one of the booths.

“I love Christmas. I can’t think of anything about it I don’t like,” the 64-year-old said. “For me, it’s more fun to give stuff than get stuff.”

Organizer Roxanne Stangle was thankful the downpour of rain from earlier had stopped in time for the event.

“It’s my favorite weekend of the year because everybody is happy,” she said. “We need to keep this spirit going all year long.”

Mother, daughter duo Wynema and Brenda Cristanelli have been coming to the Minden lighting together for more than 10 years.

“It’s a small town event. You don’t get this in big cities,” Brenda said. “We do everything.”

Following the park lighting, the man of the hour – Santa Claus happily greeted a crowd of children eager to tell him their Christmas wish list.

“Merry Christmas. Enjoy the season,” he said. “I love Minden, and I love the kids. They’re wonderful. You can’t beat them.”

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