Jolly Grand Junction

'Tis the season for joyful celebrations in Grand Junction

At Main Street Bagels in downtown Grand Junction, holiday tradition is served by the cup.

Each holiday season, the store sells helpings of its signature Polar Express Hot Chocolate, which shop owner Mark Smith says was inspired by the classic Christmas tale for which it is named.

Smith and his wife, Missy, used to read "The Polar Express" to their children, and a line in the book describing hot cocoa "as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars" gave him the idea to experiment with such a recipe. Combining three different types of chocolate with cream and other ingredients, Smith has perfected the drink described in the book.

"We sell a lot of it for the Parade of Lights," Smith says. "We have a line out the door."

Main Street Bagels has been serving the rich delight for about a decade, and to some people, it has become as much a part of the downtown Grand Junction holiday tradition as the many events that happen in this great Colorado city between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

From the much-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus to the nighttime spectacle of the Parade of Lights, the downtown area offers something for people of all ages during the holiday season.

Hundreds of children and their parents gather downtown for the holiday tree-lighting ceremony and the official arrival of Santa Claus. The event takes place at Fourth and Main streets in front of Wells Fargo Bank. The Wells Fargo Christmas tree is lit, and at the same time thousands of tiny lights on the trees that line downtown Grand Junction's six-block Main Street shopping district also twinkle to life. The lights shine each night through the holiday season, illuminating the sidewalks and century-old storefronts in the downtown area.

Santa arrives during the tree-lighting ceremony. In past years, the jolly old fellow has descended from the bank's roof and greeted the children eagerly awaiting his arrival. Snacks and hot drinks are sold by local elementary-school students, and live Christmas music is played.

The Winter Festival, a day of tasty treats, is another wonderful local tradition. Nonprofit organizations set up booths to sell drinks and goodies to shoppers until the Parade of Lights begins rolling down Main Street at 5 p.m.

The Parade of Lights is a glittering two-hour procession that features more than 100 floats. Each year brings a new theme with parade judges sitting in front of Wells Fargo Bank. Spectators should dress warmly and arrive early, and snacks and hot drinks are available from sidewalk vendors and nonprofit organizations.

Main Street's history is highlighted in the annual Holiday Chocolate Walk. Guides give walking tours of the downtown area, and participants who register and pay through the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department (970-254-3866) will receive commemorative mugs filled with coffee, hot chocolate or hot cider.

For more information about holiday events in downtown Grand Junction, Colorado, visit