The Christmas season during the 1930s, when Boulder City’s founders were just wrapping up the construction of Hoover Dam, was a bit different than it is today. Not only was it the Great Depression, but living in the middle of the Mojave Desert during Christmas time wasn’t ideal. Families hiked up to Mount Charleston for their trees, pulled bushes from the desert, or went without. While children may have wished for snow, a true “White Christmas” never came.
But, the first Boulder Cityites didn’t let a lack of “Back East” tradition deter them from celebrating the season. Each church around town held their own Christmas pageant, complete with babies (real or toy) in mangers and singing children of all ages. No matter what their denomination, all members of the community came out to celebrate together.
Anderson Brother’s Mess Hall usually provided three meals a day for the workers on the construction of Hoover Dam. But, Christmas was a bit different as it was one of the three optional, unpaid holidays, the workers on the construction of Hoover Dam were allowed to take. Anderson Brother’s Mess Hall provided Christmas dinner and a dance for families throughout Boulder City.
A consistent thread throughout the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum’s oral histories on the Christmas holidays is the kind of presents children received. Fresh fruit and nuts caused the most excitement among children of the day. Bananas, apples, and mixed nuts were among items that were most anticipated all year long. I’d like to see the reaction on the faces of kids today who receive fruit in their stockings!
Looking back, our holiday traditions haven’t changed all that much, but a few new additions have only enhanced the community of Boulder City. First off for the season is Santa’s Electric Night Parade through downtown Boulder City on the first weekend in December. The weekend following, December 8, kicks off both the 11th Annual Santa Train rides at the Nevada State Railroad Museum and the AAUW Annual Home Tour, which tickets can be purchased for at the Boulder Dam Hotel.