Rory Paxman of Canyonlands by Night created this year's traveling trophy that will be given to the best entry. He focused on this year's theme of “Christmas Vacation”, highlighting a diesel truck and a miniature Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold. [Photo courtesy / Moab Chamber of Commerce]

The Community Tree Lighting is the official beginning of Moab’s holiday season.

Each year, for as long as Moabites can remember, everyone would gather around the community Christmas tree to sing carols, drink cocoa and celebrate the holiday spirit.

The community trees have been at different locations over the years – on the community lot where The Hogan now sits at 300 South and Main and at the Moab Information Center.

This year’s Community Tree Lighting will be at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6 at the pine trees on the southeast corner of Swanny City Park.

Even though the locations change, the tradition remains the same.

Lindsay Marshall remembers when the tree was at the lot on 300 South and Main Street.

“They would truck it into town and then the school would bus all the kids down to hang ornaments,” Marshall said. “They would hang the ornaments with a bucket truck because it was such a big tree.”

The lights are already on the tree, said Jodie Hugentobler, the Moab Chamber of Commerce’s director, which hosts the event.

“The tree is decorated by classes at Helen M. Knight Elementary,” Hugentobler said. “They will go over on Friday and put up their handmade ornaments.”

There will be music. Both the Grand County High School Choir and Valley Voices will sing.

“And we’ll also have Canyon Winds playing Christmas music,” Hugentobler said.

Zions Bank will be providing cookies and cocoa for the event.

Hugentobler said that Santa Claus will be there.

“He’ll be visiting with the kids and giving out candy canes,” Hugentobler said.

The event is a kick-off for a plethora of events to be held the same evening: a Holiday Benefit Concert at Star Hall; the MARC Holiday Art and Craft Fair and the Grand Center’s Gift Fair.

The Chamber is hosting a fun-filled night on Saturday with an Electric Light Parade that begins at dusk

This year’s theme is “Christmas Vacation.”

“We have 36 entries already,” Hugentobler said.

There will be miniature ponies, Phil Koppel will have his eight brightly lit tractors and Santa will arrive on the back of a fire truck.

The chamber of commerce has been hosting the annual parade since 1998.

People often show up last minute at the park to join the parade.

“Even if they’re late, we’re happy to have them,” Hugentobler said.

Line-up at Swanny Park begins at 4:45, Saturday. The parade will go down the length of Main Street from 200 North to 800 South.

Moab Regional Hospital will host the Cocoa Shack this year to provide hot cocoa and cookies.

This year’s best entry will receive not one – but two awards – at the chamber’s luncheon at the Sczechuan Restaurant. One will be a trophy the winner can keep, the second will be a traveling trophy that the winner will be expected to decorate for next year’s winner.

“They will get to choose the theme for next year, decorate the trophy, then pass on the trophy to the next winner next year,” Hugentobler said.

This is the first of what the chamber hopes to be an annual tradition.

Rory Paxman of Canyonlands by Night made this year’s traveling trophy.

“He decorated it with a big diesel truck and Chevy Chase,” she said. “It is just so cute.”

Moab Chamber of Commerce hosts Community Tree Lighting Friday; Electric Light Parade Saturday

What: Community Tree Lighting

When: 5 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6

Where: Swanny City Park, 100 West and 300 South

What: Electric Light Parade

When: Begins at dark, Saturday, Dec. 7

Where: Begins at Swanny Park on 300 N. 100 West, travels down Main Street

What: Moab Free Health Clinic Holiday Benefit Concert

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6

Where: Star Hall, 125 E. Center St.

Cost: $10 for adults; $5 for students and seniors; free for children under age 5; $25 for a family

Tickets available at the Moab Free Health Clinic or at the door.

All proceeds to benefit medical care and educational programs offered by the Moab Free Health Clinic

More info: 435-259-1113


What: MARC’s Holiday Art and Craft Fair

When: 4 to 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6

Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North


What: Grand Center Gift Fair

When: 4 to 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6

Where: Grand Center, 152 N. 500 West


What: DEADHORSE MC Christmas Party

When: 6 p.m. Dinner; 7:30 socializing, 8:30 p.m. prize drawing, Friday, Dec. 6

Where: Elk’s Lodge, 

What: Contra Dance

When: Beginner’s lesson at 7:30; Dance at 8 p.m.

Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North

Cost: $7 donation to benefit Grand County school music programs


What: The Boom Boom Room and the Jellyfish 12,000

When: Right after the Electric Light Parade

Where: Frankie D’s, 44 W. 200 North