Courtesy Commerce City Historical Society
Commerce City residents looking out their windows the night of Saturday, Dec. 14 may have wondered why they saw a 56-passenger tour bus driving down their street.
It was all part of the Commerce City Historical Society’s Christmas Lights Bus Tour.
“This is the sixth year we’ve been doing the tour,” said Commerce City Historical Society Historian June Younger. “Not only does it give participants the opportunity to see the best Christmas displays done by residents throughout the city, but we teach them the history of the city as well.”
In addition, the Historical Society sponsors a chili dinner before the bus tour. Proceeds from the dinner are donated to a local family in need. This year, participants donated almost $300 to the family of Nancy Meyers.
Another added benefit is that the participants on the bus vote on the best decorated homes in the city. This year’s winners are Thomas Salazar at 6791 Pontiac St. in the southern part of the city and Michael and Jenn Onstott at 10046 Fraser St. in the Harvest Meadows Subdivision in the northern part of the city.
This is the first time in three years that Salazar decorated the outside of his home.
“We used to do it every year,” Salazar said. “This year, we did it for our son (Tyson). He’s 3 years old.”
Salazar said he has been collecting items over the years and he begins decorating on Halloween.
“It’s a lot of work, but it was worth it for him,” he said.
The Onstotts know just how much work it takes. Last year they decorated the outside of their home with 17,000 lights. This year they almost doubled it with 33,000 lights.
“We upped our game,” Jenn Onstott said.
“I’ve loved doing Christmas stuff since I was a kid. When I was a kid, my parents would decorate but never this big,” Michael Onstott explained. “She (Jenn) is the same way.”
This year was even more special. During the month-long process of getting the lights up, their new son, Ian, was born. With the birth of their first child, the Onstott’s wanted to make Christmas even more special for all the kids.
“I love bringing candy to the kids when they stop to see the lights,” Michael added. “Not everyone can afford to do it (decorate the outside of their homes with Christmas lights) and it is fun to see them enjoy the lights.”
Both Salazar and the Onstotts say they will keep their light displays up until after the new year. The Commerce City Historical Society gave them a gift as well as another decoration to add to their display – a yard sign saying they are the winners of this year’s bus tour.
The Commerce City Historical Society has posted their bus route on their Facebook page and on their website, www.cchistoric.com.
“We want to thank The Denver Foundation and all those who have supported our fundraising efforts this past year. Without you, offering this free bus tour to residents would not happen,” Younger said. “We want all our residents to have pride in where they live. Commerce City has such a rich history. We hope that when residents learn the history of our city, it will strengthen our community even more.”