ELKO — Although the event is known for inspiring holiday spirit and a brilliant fireworks display, the true mission of Christmas in the Nighttime Skies is to bring Christmas to the less fortunate children in Elko County.
The event begins at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Student Life Building at Great Basin College. Although admission is free, families are encouraged to donate one unwrapped toy for a boy or girl. All of the toys are then donated to Stuff the Bus and wrapped and delivered to children around the community.
A slew of events include performances by the Elko High School Choraliers and the Elko Handbells in the amphitheater on GBC’s campus. A free chili feed and the serving of hot apple cider also begins at 5 p.m.
There will be fire barrels blazing in the school amphitheater so guests can stay warm while listening to the Choraliers.
The holiday fireworks display, which is choreographed to music, begins at 7 p.m.
“It’s a great way to kick off the holidays in Elko,” said Terry Hritz, manager of the NBC affiliate KENV and event organizer.
Hritz estimated that 5,000 people were in attendance at last year’s event while more than 1,000 toys were donated. Toys of all sizes, including bicycles and a pool table, were donated.
“The community is very generous,” Hritz said.
Christmas in the Nighttime Skies is funded through the sponsorship from local businesses around Elko. Large sponsors this year are Barrick Gold Corp., the Elko Convention Center, I & E Electric Inc., Newmont Mining Corp. and KENV Channel 10. Gold Dust West donated the chili for the chili feed and the Elko Kiwanis Club and the Spring Creek Girls Scouts have volunteered to serve the food and refreshments.
The Student Government Association at GBC decorated the campus.
“Everyone comes together to put on a great family event,” Hritz said.
This is the 22nd year Christmas in the Nighttime Skies has been put on in Elko. It was originally brought to Elko by Kimberly Nurseries until Hritz took over five years ago to keep the tradition alive. Lantis Fireworks has put on the event for years all over the western United States. The fireworks business gives discounts to communities such as Elko.
“It’s a great way to come out and enjoy the evening and get ready for the holiday and bring a toy to help the unfortunate children and make sure they are taken care of and have a Christmas,” Hritz said.