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Denver Deal: Parade of Lights, Breckenridge Holiday Events, Free Days and more!

With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday all behind us, I am almost ready for the holidays to be over – so I can hit the after-Christmas sales.  OK, I’m joking there a little bit, but it does seem that this special time of year we are supposed to spend time with friends and family – yet, it flies by so quickly – that we don’t really savor the time that we do have.  So this week, if you can squeeze in some family time with some fun events it is a great way to spend some time with loved ones.


Breckenridge celebrates Lighting of Breckenridge on Dec. 4. with cocoa, cookies, German -style market, carolers and Santa. The Holiday Market continues Dec. 4-5 and 11-12, with roasted chestnuts, hot spiced cider, mulled wine, visits with Santa and unique shopping opportunities along Breckenridge’s Main Street.  Dec. 16-19 the 3rd annual Winter Dew Tour puts pro snowsports athletes on display including town concerts and plenty of nightlife activities.  Specials include Nov. 29 – Dec. 19, 2010, groups of four can book a 2-bedroom condo for four nights at just $70 per person, per night, including all lodging and 3-day lift tickets for all. Other lodging packages are available for Thanksgiving and from Dec. 24 – Jan 2. Visit or call 877.593.5260.

Plus, don’t forget to use our Breeze Rental Ski link for 25% off just for Mile High Mamas readers (and our friends).  (

Parade of Lights

Downtown Denver will be aglow in lights this weekend. (The City and County Building is already lit up for the holidays so when you’re downtown enjoy that too!) for the Parade of Lights Friday (8 p.m.)  and Saturday (6 p.m.).  The parade is FREE.   (The hot chocolate and Starbucks aren’t free). 

Avalanche Tickets from Key Bank

How about 2 FREE Avalanche Tickets and a FREE SIGNED Jersey?  Until Dec 15th, Key Bank is offering its new customers two tickets and a signed Jersey.  Consumers do have to do a few things to qualify, like open an account, the Jersey comes 90 days after qualifying but you get the tickets the day you sign up. It’s the perfect way to get a great stocking stuffer for somebody at no cost, with a signed jersey just in time for Father’s Day.  Two AWESOME gifts for no money … How’s That For A Deal?

South Suburban Ice Skating 

Skating rinks have popped up at area retailers (Southlands, Highlands Ranch Town Center etc.)  There do remain some deals at the skating rinks that are here and open all year long!  South Suburban’s Family Sports Center boasts Blades for a Buck (on the first Friday of each month – admission, skate rental and concession item only $1 each) and $2 Tuesdays (The 2nd Tuesday of the month – admission, skate rental, concession combo, ride, and Avalanche Grill special only $2 each). 

Free Days

There are a lot of free days this week:

December 3–Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield
December 4–Denver Art Museum
December 5–Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys
December 5–Boulder History Museum
December 6–Denver Museum of Nature and Science
December 7–Free Target Tuesday at Children’s Museum of Denver (4-8 p.m.)

Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter!  Be sure to forward these great deals on to your friends.

You can also follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out!

Popcorn balls and other ghosts of Christmas Past

They are impossible to eat, but look nice in a big bowl on the kitchen table.

Popcorn balls were a part of every Christmas celebration held by my mom’s side of the family. My grandma and my great-grandmother made them using the same ancient techniques the Mayans used to make the bricks to build the pyramids of the Yucatan peninsula. The pyramids still stand. The hard part for that Mesoamerican civilization was lifting them off what must have been massive sheets of wax paper.

Somewhere near Montrose, Colorado, there is a landfill with several layers of pink and green popcorn balls defying the forces of erosion and decay. Maybe someday Wheel of Fortune will give away fabulous trips to the Popcorn Balls Fields of Montrose County.

Even though I never managed to chew through an entire popcorn ball, I

Colorado in December: Celebrate the season with our daily guide

From train rides to light shows to tons of tubas, there’s something going on every December day.

December 1 Sign-language Santa: Cherry Creek Shopping Center continues its annual tradition of providing hearing-impaired children with a special visit with Santa, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. 3000 E. First Ave., 303-388-3900

2 Christmas Sing-in: The Lutheran Chorale and Lakewood Symphony are joined by guest choirs in a program of holiday music including Handel’s “Messiah,” 7:30 p.m. Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood. $15, $12 students and seniors, $8 children. 303-987-7845

3 Parade of Lights: The 9News annual parade follows a 2-mile route in downtown Denver. 8 p.m. Friday (also on TV) and 6 p.m. Saturday. Free or purchase a grandstand seat. Go to

4 Festival of Lights: The Colorado Hebrew Chorale presents a Hanukkah performance with candle lighting, music, food and instructional Israeli folk-dancing, 6:30 p.m. Guests are asked to bring their own candles and menorahs. $18, $15 students (with I.D.) and seniors, $12 members, children under 6 free. Four Mile Historic Park, 715 S. Forest St., 720-865-0815,

5 Community sing-along: Join in

School effort aims to engage parents

Much of the talk around educational reform has focused on the role teachers play in students lives, all but ignoring another big player: parents.

One Denver high school is changing that narrative, creating a multi-school system that empowers parents with the goal of getting more students into college.

Antonio Esquibel, principal of Abraham Lincoln High School, is using money from a three-year federal school-improvement grant to build a collaboration with its feeder schools — CMS Community School, Godsman Elementary and Kepner Middle School.

“The end goal is to really prepare kids for college when they graduate from Lincoln, beginning at preschool and kindergarten,” Esquibel said.

Parent participation rises

The collaboration is focused on

Colorado Skiing Makes Me Happy to be Home for the Holidays

Confession: I was moderately depressed last year when I was unable to spend Christmas with my family in Canada.

But let’s face it: there are worse things than spending Christmas in Colorado.

And so my family of four opted to start a new tradition: We went skiing the day before Christmas at Loveland Ski Area. It was fantastic for a few reasons:

* Colorado’s resorts are the very epitome of a winter wonderland.
* My children exerted all their pent-up “Santa’s coming” energies on the slopes. They were passed out by 8:30 p.m.
* Santa visited Loveland’s ski school and skied with the kids.

Note: My 5-year-old daughter made sure to give him a thorough interrogation that he, indeed, was just Santa’s helper because surely the true St. Nick would not be slacking off on Christmas Eve.

Our fantastic experience made me resolve to head to the hills more often. I asked Colorado Ski Country USA to help me with a snapshot of upcoming activities and deals that will delight

Volunteer Santa Available for Special Needs Kids & Give Back With Operation Santa

John Shager has been a Santa for 32 years and is well acquainted with the long lines and drama associated with the man in red.

He is also a four-year cancer survivor.

In an effort to give back, he is volunteering his services for FREE and is willing to visit any group of families of children with autism or special needs who need extra time to discover Santa. Photographers are available but John’s intent is to offer an experience where families can take their own pictures and have a non-rushed visit with Santa without the lines.

John’s primary goal is to be a volunteer Santa to

Review: Harry Potter film “Deathly Hallows” unleashes the bleakness in a ripping thriller

A pall hangs over the anxious world that pits Harry Potter and his allies against their cold, familiar foes in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” the latest film about author J. K. Rowling’s celebrated boy wizard.

The seventh film in the series, based on Rowling’s seventh and final book, is the bleakest and most frightening yet.

A warning: Viewers unfamiliar with the story about the young wizard’s battles with the unspeakably evil Lord Voldemort may have trouble following the script (or this review, for that matter). Like the “Star Wars” movies, which chronicle similar battles between dark and light, this series has its own eccentric vocabulary, unique rules and bizarre characters.

But of course, there are millions upon millions of Potter fans out there, so a little inside baseball seems perfectly in order.

By any measure, “Deathly Hallows” is a ripping thriller. Harry Potter fans will recognize that it picks up where “The Half-Blood Prince” left off, with Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in tatters and the wall between the wizarding and Muggle (nonmagical) worlds shattered.

Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) relishes his control of the

Lighten up this Thanksgiving

It’s good advice for this time of year, whether we’re talking about getting along with relatives or keeping track of holiday calories. As the season of temptation gets rolling with Thursday’s feast, just lighten up — on consumption, stress, guilt, all of it.

This week might not be the best to embark on a new weight-loss plan, so if you do over-indulge, go easy on the guilt.

If your college-age kid comes home with a few extra pounds, keep your mouth shut.

One easy place to lighten up is on Thanksgiving side dishes. You can still have the traditional elements, but consider swapping citrus for cream in the green beans, honey for sugar in the cranberry sauce, and whole grains for white bread in the stuffing. A typical Thanksgiving dinner can range from 1,500 to 3,000 calories — much more than a meal’s worth for the average person.

We’ve given the traditional sides a makeover, and to help you keep pace with your fitness goals, here’s a cornucopia of healthy ideas from “Good Housekeeping Drop 5 lbs” by dietitian Heather K. Jones:

Keeping my family warmer and our bills lower

This is going to be THE MOST EXCITING article you’ll read all day.

Of course, I’m going to do my best to make this topic RIVETING, but I’m also wishing desperately that everything else you come across today will be on the boring side.

What is this intriguing, fascinating topic?

Event Round-up: Grand Illumination Celebration, the Rocky Mountain Toy Train Show & More!

Friday. Downtown Denver lights up for the holidays at the annual Grand Illumination celebration. Starting with the twinkling lights at Skyline Park, the Grand Illumination fires up the hundreds of thousands of white bulbs along the Mall, too. Head to Union Station to see the lights go up on the building and its distinctive Christmas tree out front — carolers, snacks and kids’ crafts add to the festivities. The big finale comes at 6:45 p.m., when the switch gets thrown on the giant display at the City and County Building at Bannock Street and Colfax Avenue. To make an evening of it, take a stroll through Larimer Square to check out the “LoDo Aglow” store-window displays, too. The Grand Illumination begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Skyline Park, Arapahoe and 16th Streets. Admission is free. Learn more at

Saturday-Sunday. The Rocky Mountain Toy Train Show is arriving right on schedule, just in time for holiday gift-giving — and gift-begging. Train buffs of all ages can take in operating model trains in a variety of sizes and scales, plus chat with vendors, join clinics and meet fellow hobbyists. There’s a special area for kids as well, featuring hands-on models, a ride-able train and engineer photos. Santa will also be in attendance and available, as usual, for photo opportunities. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Denver Merchandise Mart, 451 E. 58th Ave.; 303-292-6278. Admission is $8 for adults and kids age 12 and older, and good for both days. Scouts and military personnel in uniform are admitted free. Visit for more information.

Friday. Denver’s not the only city lighting up — Littleton hosts its 27th annual candlelight walk and tree ceremony in its historic downtown district. Arrive early for free hot cider and music at select downtown locations, including the Town Hall Arts Center and Bega Park. At 6:30 p.m., follow Santa on his walk from the courthouse to the west end of Main Street, where he and a lucky kid helper will flip the lights on Main Street’s trees. Bring a flashlight for the candlelight walk, or buy a candle at participating locations for 50 cents. Nonperishable food donations and toy donations will be accepted, too. 5:15 p.m. tonight. Downtown Littleton, Main Street. Admission is free. Learn more at or call 303-795-3863.

Through Dec. 5. Can’t wait to see “The Nutcracker” this season? The Boulder Ballet is already en pointe with their production of the holiday ballet, starting Friday. The company’s version of the classic tale incorporates special effects, elements of circus artistry and a few additional characters to create a “Nutcracker” of their own. Best of all, the Boulder Ballet’s “Nutcracker” features live music, performed by the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boulder Children’s Chorale. On Dec. 4 and 5, the production moves to Longmont for two performances with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra. 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Macky Auditorium, 17th Street and University Avenue, Boulder. Tickets are $15-$82. For more information, visit

-Kathleen St. John