by Larry Patrick
Bill Downey picked up the ball and ran with it 15 years ago when it looked as though the Parade of Lights in Walsenburg may end. Downey was new to the Chamber of Commerce Board when it was announced that the Parade of Lights would not be held that year because of insurance costs that were prohibitive to the Chamber.
Downey told the Chamber that the project was such a great kickoff to the Christmas season that there must be a way to save it. He went to the City of Walsenburg and asked for their assistance. The City, as it does today, acted as sponsor for the event. It is included in the City’s insurance coverage at no additional cost.
With that hurdle cleared, Bill continued the Parade of Lights chairmanship every year since that time. The parade route has also increased over the years. It used to begin around the Walsenburg Care Center and went down to the Huerfano County Community Center area. Then some asked about a longer route. Downey was able to get the parade route extended from the old high school building, now the new library facility, and go down Main Street to the Community Center.
“The parade has gotten bigger and better over the years” according to Downey. “The quality of the entries have gotten much better over the years with floats.” Downey has seen success with a parade theme each year. This year’s theme is “Let it snow, let it snow.”
The weather has cooperated most years of the Parade of Lights. Many people remember the huge 41-inch snowfall during Thanksgiving of 1997 that prevented the parade from being held. Even Santa Claus didn’t make it that weekend. However, Santa will be at this year’s Parade of Lights again.
The annual City of Walsenburg and Chamber of Commerce event will be held this Friday night at 6 p.m. Santa will be available at the Chamber of Commerce office, at the old train depot, following the parade. Numerous retailers will be open during and after the Parade of Lights with refreshments and opportunities for shoppers to take advantage of specials.
Downey feels this may be his last year as chairman of the event. He would like to pass it on to someone else to handle. He has enjoyed it but believes it is time for some other people to take on the title. Downey has served his community, he has been Chamber of Commerce president and member, served on the RE-1 school board and the Waslenburg City Council. He’s also a member of the Walsenburg Mens Club. He has owned and operated Main Street Office Supply for many years in the downtown area.
As part of the weekend celebration in Walsenburg, the 3rd annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas Bazaar will also kick off this Friday and Saturday at the Huerfano County Community Center.