Bringing Back Christmas: Mission Accomplished!
It might have been the arrival of snow (finally!) or all of the festive decorations and lights downtown, but the Spirit of Christmas came alive Saturday night on Leadville’s Harrison Avenue. The annual Leadville Chamber of Commerce Parade of Lights was definitely successful at “Bringing Christmas Back.”
“The committee did a fantastic job,” said Chamber Director Heather Scanlon as she dispersed hot chocolate to hundreds of people gathered in front of the Lake County Courthouse. The parade committee was spearheaded by Leadville Mayor Jaime Stuever and his wife Jo Ann, who were backed by a host of businesses and volunteers who put in the effort to breathe some new live into the annual event. It worked!
There were at least a dozen float entries in the parade, all colorfully lit-up, radiating holiday cheer. The consensus among the crowd was that this year’s Parade of Lights was – by far – the best in recent memory.
“Merry Christmas, everyone, and thanks for coming out tonight, “ said Mayor Stuever addressing Leadville families as they stood in line, waiting to tell Santa their Christmas wishes.
The Parade of Lights awards were dispersed as follows:
- First Place: Our Lady of Guadeloupe Dancers of Holy Family Parish in Leadville.
- Second place: Morning Star Learning Center.
- Third Place went to the torch-bearing Shack Club.
Parade of Lights Video
There had to be 300-400 people who gathered down the avenue as for the Parade of Lights, followed by Santa and Mrs. Claus’ visit with children, Christmas Karaoke, hot chocolate and wood-burning fire barrels kept everyone warm as waited for Santa’s arrival. And even though ole St. Nick is a real crowd-please, the real star on Saturday night was the SNOW! It began early in the day, accompanied by a lot of wind; by nightfall the snow had piled up with totals varying from 8 inches to a foot around town.
Many local businesses are also participating in the holiday best-dressed window contest. There’s still time to voice your opinion on your favorite Leadville window decoration. Simply cast your vote at the chamber office. A winner will be announced by the Leadville Chamber next Saturday, December 15.
Congratulations everyone and thanks for your help in “Bringing Back Christmas.”
Our Lady of Guadalupe Dancers to Perform Wednesday
If you missed out on seeing the Our Lady of Guadeloupe dancers at the Parade of Lights on Saturday, you’ll have another chance to see them perform this Wednesday.
The annual Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 11, with the Coronation of Our Lady from 6 – 9 p.m. in the Sixth Street Gym.
Then on the Feast day Wednesday, Dec. 12, the procession from Mtn. View Trailer Park to Annunciation Church begins at 9 a.m. and travels through the streets of Leadville, ending at Annunciation Church where the dance troupe will perform an elaborate interpretive dance, followed by Mass at 12 noon, and a Fiesta at the Sixth Street Gym. The day starts out with 5 a.m. Mananitas.
This year the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a life-sized digital image of the original Tilma of St. Juan Diego, will be displayed on Dec. 12 for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe here in Leadville. This world-wide missionary image (one of 4) was commissioned by the Rector & Victor General of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City supported by the bishops of Mexico. The public is invited to all of these special events.
Our Lady of Guadeloupe Dancers Video
If you are not familiar with the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, here is some background on this festive celebration that has now become an annual tradition for Leadville’s Mexican and Catholic community.
The year was 1531, the place was Mexico City. Recent ventures to the New World brought with it Catholic preachers converting native populations to the Christian faith. Fifty-seven year old Juan Diego was one of the newly devout and on his way to early morning Mass when he heard the beautiful singing of birds, seemingly from heaven. Reaching the top of a hill, he saw a radiant woman clothed in splendid light – the Ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God. She told Juan that she wanted him to be her special messenger to the Bishop of Mexico City. Juan was to tell the him that Our Lady wanted a church to be built at Tepeyac Hill.
Now, Juan hadn’t ever traveled too far from home but off he went to the palace of Franciscan Bishop Fray Juan Zumarraga and requested to meet immediately with the bishop. The bishop’s servants, who were suspicious of the rural peasant, kept him waiting for hours. The bishop didn’t initially believe Juan Diego and asked him to return another day.
Juan was disappointed by the bishop’s response and returned to the hill where he had first met Mary and found her there waiting for him. Juan implored her to send someone else, considering himself unworthy to persuade someone as important as a bishop. Mary assured him that he was personally chosen to be her ambassador.
The next day he returned to plead with the bishop. Though impressed by Juan’s persistence, the bishop was still unsure. He sent Juan to tell the Lady he needed a sign in order to know if it was truly her. So a sign it was! Mary urged Juan to go to the top of the hill were he would find flowers miraculously growing. Juan was astonished to see so many vibrant roses during the frosty December time of the year. He cut them and gathered them in his tilma (cloak). Our Lady arranged the flowers with her own hands, rolled up the tilma and ordered Juan not to unfurl his tilma until he was in the presence of the bishop. After being harassed yet again by the bishop’s servants, Juan was finally brought in to see him.
After recounting every detail of his conversation with Our Lady, he let down his tilma and the flowers fell to the floor. Juan was surprised when everyone in the room also fell to the floor on their knees. The image of Our Lady had miraculously appeared on Juan’s tilma!
Repenting for his unbelief with abundant tears, Bishop Juan Zumarraga promised to build the shrine that Our Lady had requested. That same cloak with the miraculous image – that experts are at a loss to explain – is viewed annually by millions of the devout and the curious in the Basílica de Guadalupe in Mexico City.
And that is the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Today, Our Lady is the patron saint of Mexico and it’s demonstrated in the elaborate and lengthy celebrations and processions carried out for days throughout the country. That tradition was brought to Leadville by Mexican Catholics and has become a big part of the local Holy Family Parrish.