Last year I had the privilege of playing Ebenezer Scrooge for the Front Range Theatre Company's "The Education of Mr. Scrooge." I was also asked by the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce to write a brief history of Castle Rock's "Starlighting" ceremony -- a longstanding tradition for my home town. So I wrote a script, a skit, really, to tell the story. Originally, my "character" was Scrooge, and I wound up with a plug for the play. This year, the Chamber fiddled with the script to make me "Horace Ebenezer." But I thought putting this online somewhere might make for a nice bit of local history. My thanks to the many real life officials who performed this last night. The usual big Starlight crowd seemed to enjoy it, hokey though it was.
I should say, by the way, that I've got a heck of a cold, or flu, or something. So I hope I did my part OK. But the advantage of writing the script is that you can give everybody else the long bits. In the picture below, Gary Shapiro is on the left. I, wearing an awesome Mad Hatter hat, am on the right.
5:08 p.m. Gary Shapiro — Telling of the Starlighting Story
“Let me tell you a story, a tale that you may find sounds rather familiar. Just last night, a grumpy old man, Horace Ebenezer, whose alias around Castle Rock is Jamie LaRue - director of the Douglas County Libraries and longtime Castle Rock resident - asked himself,”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)--"Why is there always such a fuss downtown in Castle Rock, every year, just to turn on a showy star that wastes taxpayer dollars? Humbug!"
Gary Shapiro—“At that moment, a Voice chimed in--Ebenezer, you will be visited this afternoon by three Spirits."
Just then the Perry Street clock struck ONE. And almost immediately, another voice materialized, this one accompanied by a body and a beard."
Commissioner Steve Boand — “I am the Spirit of Starlighting past!”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer) — “What are you talking about?”
Commissioner Boand — “I have come to tell the story of how, in 1936, a group of hardy firemen scaled the sides of the Rock, without benefit of roadway or footpath. They carried with them heavy pipes, rods, torches and fuel tanks.”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer) — “Whatever for?”
Commissioner Boand — “Upon reaching the windswept heights, they constructed a star, welding it in sections, tilting it upright, wiring it for electricity, and completing the project with 100 light bulbs of 25 watts apiece. When lighted, it was visible for a distance of ten miles!”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer) — “And I suppose this light blazed all through the night?”
Commissioner Boand — “No, for many years, the lights of the star were turned off by midnight. But no longer!”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer) — “It's been up there ever since?”
Commissioner Boand — “The Star was dark during World War II, honoring the government's request to save electricity. But, in 1945, it again shone out over the land, a 'V' of light. In 1949, the brave firemen again scaled the Rock to replace the original star.”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“But what's all this infernal racket downtown?”
Commissioner Boand—“In 1965, an enthusiastic group of citizens worked with the Volunteer Fire Department to prepare an inspirational ceremony to accompany the turning on of the lights. The first Starlighting Ceremony took place on Sunday, November 28, 1965. And so it has continued, so that 'the Yuletide travelers who pass along this way between the hours of dusk and dawn may know that this star, so like that other Star of long ago, radiates its warm and sincere message of Hope for Peace on Earth and Good Will in the Hearts of Men.'"
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“Whose idea was all that?”
Commissioner Boand—“Originally the dream of Golden Dobbin owner Anne McConnell, it was adopted as the joint vision of the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Town's Fire Department.
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“And the idea was just to kick off the Christmas shopping season?”
Commissioner Boand—“You have much to learn, Ebenezer." (fades back)
Gary Shapiro--Then the clock tolled Two. And the Second Spirit appeared.
Mayor Paul Donahue (Spirit of Starlighting Present)--“Ebenezer”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“Who are you?
Mayor Donahue—“I’m Paul Donahue, the Spirit of Starlighting Present!”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“Has anyone ever told you you look just like the Mayor of Castle Rock?
Mayor Donahue – “I get that all the time. But that's not why I'm here. You asked about the revelry of Starlighting. Today, as has been the case for so many years, we will sing carols together, have a benediction, count down together to turn on the light, and then adjourn for a chili dinner.”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“I don't suppose there's a chance we'll see Santa? I've always liked Santa.”
Mayor Donahue – “Yes, Ebenezer, Santa will be here tonight, as he has been so often before. Actually here is the Santa Chair—we will be seeing him very, very soon”.
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“But what else goes on here today?”
Mayor Donahue – “we have seen all afternoon many, many wonderful non-profit organizations around our local streets and the singing of Christmas Carols, horses and carriages clip clopping along, in addition to a new skating rink and wait you will see our grand finale—the lighting of our great Star.”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“So all of this is just a government boondoggle to sing old songs, visit Santa, and eat chili?
Mayor Donahue—“Ebenezer, You just don't get it, do you? (fades back)
Gary Shapiro “And then the clock tolled Three. And who should appear but…”
House Rep. Carole Murray—“Ebenezer, I am the Spirit of Starlighting future.”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—“You mean this just goes on and on?”
Rep. Murray—“I'm here to unveil the true meaning of Starlighting, Ebenezer. Through our honoring of the past, and celebrating the present, we create something new and vital.”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer)—(suspiciously) “And what's that?”
Rep. Murray—“We create community. From our shared experiences, our gathering with children, our hopes for the future, we build an enduring and inviting Town, truly an inspiration, a light, for the entire state."
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer) (starting to smile) “You mean, the past, the present, and future of Starlighting is not only about economic development, but also the development of a common bond?”
Rep. Murray—“Yes, Ebenezer.”
Jamie LaRue—(Ebenezer) “Why, that's .... not bad! God bless us, every one!”
Gary Shapiro—“And forever after it was said that Horace Ebenezer kept the spirit of Starlighting in his heart, and never missed a single ceremony for the rest of his life.”
In November of 2018, I left my position at ALA in Chicago to return to my Colorado-based writing, speaking, and consulting career. So I'...
Recently, a library patron challenged (urged a reconsideration of the ownership or placement of) a book called "Uncle Bobby's Weddi...
Here are my remarks at today's American Library Association Midwinter Conference. Jim Neal's Presidential Program was "Are lib...
FreeGeek , 3411 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, is an oddity. Tucked into an alley, down a flight of stairs, into a basement, it's b...