Ronan’s epic Lights Under the Big Sky, an event that draws hundreds of visitors from the Mission Valley and beyond to the fairgrounds, kicked off with the Parade of Lights Dec. 9 in downtown Ronan, which delivered Santa to his cozy cabin at the fairgrounds where he and Mrs. Claus preside over festivities from 5-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through Dec. 17.
One of the chief elves (and project manager at the fairgrounds), Sjaan Vincent, says the event continues to flourish as it enters year five, which she attributes to “tremendous community support” from an army of volunteers, businesses and sponsors.
New this year are wagon rides with the Live Oak Belgians of St. Ignatius. For a small fee, visitors can tour the grounds pulled by a team of draft horses, harnessed three abreast.
Also new is the Rescue Dog hotdog booth, which will offer gourmet hotdogs on the final weekend of the lighting extravaganza, Dec. 16-17. A portion of proceeds will be donated to the local animal shelter.
The event offers a flurry of free fun for youngsters, from a red cabin with a porch where Santa and Mrs. Claus take up residence, to broomball games with the Mission Valley Ice Arena’s crew, the Kids’ Zone, featuring games, crafts and face painting, and story time, from 6-7 p.m. each night in the community center.
This year’s Christmas Market showcases works by up to 25 local artisans, and local musicians also perform. Sweet treats, concessions, and coffee, hot cider and hot chocolate are also available. Musicians also perform, beginning at 6 p.m. nightly.
As for the elves, they’ll be busy tweaking the display until the last possible moment. “We start in September and we’re still hanging lights at the last minute,” says Vincent. “We want Ronan to be a destination, so for four nights in December we are where it’s at.”
Admission is just $4 per person of $20 for a family of six or more, and free for ages 4 and under. For a complete schedule, head to bigskylights.org.