Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Published Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 | 9:25 p.m.
Updated Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 | 10:08 p.m.
A crowd gathered around Santa Claus and Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen Friday night for the lighting of the city’s 30-foot-tall Christmas tree in downtown Henderson.
The tree was decorated with white lights, and silver and gold ornaments. Despite cloudy skies and temperatures in the 40s, hundreds of people came to Friday’s event.
The tree-lighting, which took place about 6:15 p.m., is part of Henderson’s annual WinterFest, which continues through 7 p.m. Saturday.
The festival featured activities including pony rides, an iceless skating rink, singers, food vendors and a petting zoo, complete with a rabbit, goats and an alpaca.
Other WinterFest events include horse-drawn carriage rides down Water Street, a gingerbread house contest and a holiday parade that begins on Ocean Street at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
“It’s beautiful,” Henderson Councilwoman Gerri Schroder said of the tree. “It’s just a wonderful event for Henderson.”
Hafen said the tree was “awesome” and the event is a hit every year with residents.
The mayor said his favorite part is “having everybody out here — the community spirit.”
Shawni Chappell, 28, of Henderson, went straight to the pony rides. She was waiting in line with her 9-month-old son, Owen, who was sitting bundled up in a stroller. Chappell was at Winterfest with her 3-year-old daughter, Stella, and some friends.
“We just figured it was something free and family friendly that would be fun,” Chappell said. “It’s always fun to have new traditions for the first Christmas.”
Sabrina Schuller, 28, of Henderson, sat beside the Christmas tree, eating chocolate-drizzled crisped rice treats and sipping hot chocolate.
“I think it’s very beautiful,” said Schuller, who was there with her 5-year-old daughter, Delaney.
She said she came for her daughter “to be able to see the community. In Las Vegas, you don’t always have that.”
A family from North Las Vegas was selling “drizzlers,” which are fruit, marshmallow or crisped rice treat kabobs covered with chocolate.
Jeff Hone, 41, the step-father of the family, said business was brisk about an hour into the event.
“I think we’ve done pretty well with the toasted marshmallows,” said Corbin Kebs, 11, who was also working at the stand.