Fireworks kick off holiday festivities |

Fireworks kick off holiday festivities

by Tisa Coons
Special to The R-C
3-year-old Madison Nadler is one of the first children to have a visit with Santa Thursday evening at the Gardnerville Christmas Kickoff in Heritage Park.

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The Minden Gazebo lighting is tonight as is the lighting of the Genoa Town Christmas tree.

Breakfast with Santa is Saturday morning in Genoa

The Parade of Lights through Minden and Gardnerville is Saturday night

Locals gathered at Heritage Park on Thursday to celebrate Gardnerville’s annual Christmas Kickoff festivities and fireworks. The overall mood of the crowd was jubilant and celebratory.

The crowd this year comprised both first-timers and repeated attendees. The park was packed with adults and children gathered in lines waiting for the various stalls or huddled near the fire pits warming themselves. Even though the weather was chillingly cold the fire pits scattered throughout the park was a great hit with the crowd.

There were wagon rides, hot cocoa, spiced cider, and even cobblers graciously served by the Town of Gardnerville’s board members and staff. Santa Clause made an appearance to a long line of children patiently waiting their turns to sit on his lap and tell him of their Christmas wishes.

The All About Dance Kids entertained the crowd along with Christmas carolers. And along with the grand finale of the amazing fireworks was the lighting of Gardnerville’s Christmas Tree and the Heritage Park Pavilion.

Krystal Koontz who was accompanied by her children Hailie and Kyle said, “Gardnerville is happy to have their own event.” She also praised the addition of the fire pits, and added that “the fireworks are always fun for the kids.”

“This is our first time and we are very excited”, said Kathryn Seiler accompanied by her young child and her friend. A sentiment that was repeated by many of the attendees who visited the festivities for the first time. Mike and Merry Akin with their friend Bryan Woods who were all first time attendees said they were excited to be able to share the festivities with their little children.

Sherri McGee, attending for the first time since she usually goes to Minden’s annual celebration as she lives there, said “watching her grandchildren riding the hay rides was pretty neat.” Other attendees similarly noted how rewarding it was to watch their children and grandchildren immensely enjoy themselves with all the activities.

Mark and Linda Coffey, a couple visiting family from Texas, described the festivities as nice and cute, and praised how Gardnerville has not changed much over the years and still remains true to its small town character and ambiance. They also praised the scenic aspect of the town including the mountains and the snow this time of the year.

Numerous people who have been attending the festivities since it started several years ago spoke of the changes throughout the years, including the new add-on activities and of course the fireworks.

Ruby Barrington, who has been attending the festivities for five years with her children, said the fireworks are their biggest appeal. She also added that every year they look forward to this event.

Svetlana Houlmire, a repeated attendee said she brought her mother to the event this time as she is visiting from Russia. She wanted her mother to experience the festivities in her town. When asked to describe the event, she quickly quipped it feels like a “big family”

The Nestroyl family said they have been attending this event ever since it started, and enjoys all the changes over the years, and it has become an annual family outing for them.

Bella Wilson, who was accompanied by her mother, said she has been attending for several years and loves the horse rides and the lights. She also noted that the event has become quite social and a great space for people to interact with each other.

Bryan Cassidy, who has been attending for several years, said his favorite feature of the event is the people watching. The Dodd family said that the biggest appeal which keeps them returning every year is the overall communal and hometown ambience of the festivities. Summing up the overall mood of the event, Winter Frost said it was “christmasy.”

Attendees praised how the event has been drawing larger crowds each year and is morphing into a huge social gathering for local townsfolk.

Minden and Genoa held their lighting ceremonies on Friday night. On Saturday, the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted the 21st annual Parade of Lights which traveled from Gardnerville to Minden Park.