Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Downtown Boise Hotels Fill Up Fast for New Year's Eve

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM


The Grove Hotel sold out first, and quite awhile ago. All 254 rooms are booked for tomorrow night's New Year's Eve holiday. Then the Modern Hotel booked the night almost solid, with only one of the 39 rooms remaining—as of 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 30. It probably won't last long though.

Organizers for the Idaho Potato Drop hope to see more than 50,000 people attend the second annual event. With three stages—a main stage at Bannock Street, a family stage on Tenth and Main and an adult stage at Sixth and Main—nearly 20 food trucks, two VIP areas on the Grove and Flatbread, a small army of street performers and a fireworks display, this year is promised to be bigger and better than last year.

And of course one can't forget the station wagon-sized foam potato poised to drop from a crane over Eighth and Main streets on the countdown to midnight. 

Turn-out for the event could go either way, though, with temperatures forecasted around a brisk 6 degrees Wednesday night. 

Although the Grove Hotel and the Modern are pretty well sold out, a few other downtown options remain available. Hotel 43 still has 29 rooms available starting at $289. The Safari Inn has 20 rooms left at $99, and the Red Lion Hotel has 58 rooms open with a special New Years rate at $69.

All of these hotels expect to be booked up by the time the calendar turns over to 2015.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas From Santa, Idaho

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Some towns commemorate Christmas year-round—they have to.

Whether it's North Pole, AK.; Bethlehem, Penn.; Silver Bell, Ariz.; Eggnog, Utah (yes, that's real); or Rudolph, Ohio (or Rudolph, S.D.; Rudolph, Tenn; Rudolph, Texas; or Rudolph, Wis.), some towns are permanently shackled to the holidays. For the record, Rudolph's friends Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Donner and Blitzen also have towns named after them (in order, they're in Louisiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, Georgia, California and Oregon).

Idaho has its own year-round Christmas village: Santa, an unincorporated town in Benewah County, just southeast of St. Maries. Needless to say the post office at Santa (area code 83866) is a pretty popular place in December.

If you're inclined, you can also visit nearby Christmas Valley, Ore; Holly, Wash.; and Shepherd, Mont. Anytime you're anxious to get winter started, you may want to visit Snow, Idaho, in Nez Perce County.

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Merry Christmas From Clyde, Our Favorite Camel

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 10:29 AM

  • Jeremy Lanningham
Somehow, it just wouldn't be Christmas without checking in with our favorite camel, Clyde.

Three Christmases ago, Clyde was a Boise Weekly "Citizen" when we visited his Nampa digs. His "parents," Gary and Renae Drake, transport Clyde in a makeshift wagon to dozens of holiday events each year, including a pretty popular live nativity scene at the Eagle Seventh-day Adventist Church.

For the record, Clyde weighs about a ton and is 8 feet tall at the shoulder and up to 14 feet tall to the head. He grazes in the Drakes' Nampa pasture, but only eats a third of what a horse might eat, despite the fact that he's twice as big. He's 13 years old and, with any luck, he could survive into his 40s.

"He's part of the family," Renae Drake told Boise Weekly, who added that a lot of kids consider the Drakes to be Clyde's parents. "We'll be shopping and some child will say, 'Look, there's Clyde's mommy and daddy.'"

Yes, he's particularly gentle with children.

"I took Clyde across the street to a subdivision once so the kids could say hello," said Gary Drake. "And there was a little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old—she was riding hell-bent for election on her tricycle and she couldn't stop. Clyde just looked at her, spread his legs and let her ride her tricycle right under him. He didn't bat an eyelash."
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Video: Small Dog Preventing Mail Deliveries to Spokane Address

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 9:51 AM

The United States Postal Creed reads:

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

Apparently all bets are off when it comes to one small dog.

KREM-TV reports that Christmas cards and packages will just have to wait for a Spokane woman who says she hasn't gotten any mail because her USPS carrier won't deal with her Shih Tzu.

"He's not a monster," insists Sun Moon, Lucky's owner. "This dog is very friendly, very likeable."

The USPS would disagree. They've informed Moon, on three occasions, that she needs to move her mail box to the front of her fence or she won't be getting any deliveries. Moon, meanwhile, said moving her mailbox closer to the street increases the risk of her mail being stolen.

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Nearly 60-Year Tradition Continues: NORAD Tracks Santa

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Christmas arrived in the South Pacific early today and Santa was right on schedule.

Children (of all shapes, sizes and ages) are again tracking that jolly old elf via the North American Aerospace Defense Command, aka NORAD, with a holiday tradition that dates back to 1955. History tells us that the whole thing started by accident. It turns out that a Colorado department store placed an ad in the local paper for its own Santa hotline, but instead, the number was a misprint, directing phone calls to the regional headquarters of the then-Continental Air Defense Command (which later became NORAD).

This year, NORAD has a pretty sophisticated "tracker" showing Santa's exact trajectory, where he was last seen (as of 9:30 a.m., Mountain time, he was heading west, toward Novosibirsk, Russia). It also shows how many gifts have been delivered (nearly 1.7 billion and counting). 

All in, it's not a bad distraction to show the kids who are practically jumping out of their skin waiting for their own visit tonight.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Downtown Boise's Old Chicago Set For Another 'Miracle on Idaho Street'

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 1:25 PM

When Old Chicago Pizza started serving the homeless on Christmas back in 1996, the kitchen churned out turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes. They handed out toiletries and essentials. But in the past year,restaurant employees/elves have revamped the giving event into something entirely different: a holiday pizza party.

This Christmas Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Old Chicago's downtown Boise location on West Idaho Street invites all  in-need individuals and families to come enjoy free pizza, pasta, cookies and pie. Much of the day's energy is geared toward the children, with the Rose Room located above the restaurant transformed into Santa's workshop—which will feature free pictures with Santa, games, toys and a stocking to decorate and fill up.

Ken Helmig, the general manager for the downtown Boise location, has been with the restaurant since 1997. He said the restaurant is planning for 1,300 people to come through the doors on Dec. 25.

"We made a commitment to make a difference in our community and I feel like every year, we actually do," he told Boise Weekly. In all, Old Chicago estimates it's served more than 132,000 holiday meals to families in need.

Helmig said the number of families fluctuates throughout the years. The most people who have ever come in on Christmas was 1,400. Last year was their lowest year, at 900. He said he's still expecting a line around the block come 10 a.m. Christmas morning.

The event is put on with the help of more than 100 volunteers. Helmig said his phone is ringing constantly with more people wanting to volunteer, but they can't accommodate any more help.

"I bet we could get as many volunteers as we could guests," he said.

To help spread the word about the free meal, the restaurant partnered with Boise Rescue Mission, Lighthouse Rescue Mission, City Light Home for Women and Children, Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Service and CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc. 

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

City of Trees: Boise's Christmas Tree Escorted to Downtown, Capitol Tree Will Follow Friday

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Midday motorists were a bit more patient than usual Wednesday afternoon as they yielded to Boise's Christmas tree. The enormous evergreen crawled across Ninth and 10th streets before making its way to the Grove.

"Happy to escort Boise's tree into place," tweeted Boise Police officers at 1 p.m., just prior to the tree being hauled into place.

And Boise's Christmas tree will soon have a bit of competition as the official Capitol Christmas tree makes its way to the Statehouse this Friday, Nov. 14. That 50-foot tree was donated from a North Boise home and will soon be decorated with 14,000 bulbs. The Capitol Tree will be put into place between 8 a.m. and noon on Friday.
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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Boise, Payette National Forest Christmas Tree Permits Available Later This Month

Posted By on Sat, Nov 8, 2014 at 8:35 AM

There may still be some candy in the Halloween bucket and more than a few Idahoans may still be nursing their election night hangovers, but officials at the Boise and Payette national forests are already thinking about Christmas. Vendors will begin selling Christmas tree permits on Saturday, Nov. 22, with permits available at forest district offices and the Interagency Visitor's Information Center on South Vinnell Way in Boise on Monday, Nov. 24. 

Each permit, for a cost of $10, allows one tree to be cut, with a limit of three permits to a family. The maximum height of a permitted tree is 12 feet. 

If a heavy snowfall occurs in Southwest Idaho during tree harvest season, which runs all the way to Christmas Eve, some forest roads may become a safety concern and will be closed to early Christmas tree gathering. Forest roads are not plowed. Updates are available at
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day Weekend in Idaho: Slip-n-Sliding, Mules and Axe Throwing

Posted By on Sat, Aug 30, 2014 at 3:47 PM

  • Kelsey Hawes

AAA Idaho expects about 147,000 Idahoans to hit the road this week in their last grasp of summer.  While there are numerous holiday weekend events happening in the Treasure Valley—including the 1,000-foot slip-n-slide between Boise Avenue and Federal Way, and the Spirit of Boise balloon launches in Ann Morrison Park—more than a few people will be heading to the mountains for a trip back in time.

Ketchum's Wagon Days are highlighted by today's so-called "Big Hitch," the largest non-motorized parade in North America, with more than 100 buggies, carriages, carts, stages and wagons being pulled through town. But the biggest big hitch of the day will be a wagon train pulled by a team of 20 specially trained pack mules. The pack will be pulling a cargo of six, 3-ton wagons that once carried ore from central Idaho mines.

Meanwhile, the chips will fly in the Adams County community of New Meadows when lumberjacks (and -jills) bring their skills to the 49th annual Meadows Valley Days. The event features Idaho's largest car show and a parade, but the fun really gets going during the logging competition, including the very specific skill of axe throwing.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Boise Emergency Responders on the 4th of July: 'We Hold Our Breath'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 2:39 PM

While most holiday revelers dial down the anxiety over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, emergency responders and caregivers are set to, once again, dial up their focus in dealing with the effects of mixing fun and fireworks.

“Fireworks can still be family-friendly,” Ken Dey told Boise Weekly. “Just don’t shoot the fireworks high, have the adults light the fireworks, and make sure there’s water nearby.”

Dey should know. He's the spokesman for St. Luke's Health System. Many of his colleagues won't be celebrating on Independence Day. They'll be busy caregiving at medical centers throughout
southern Idaho.

Meanwhile the Boise Fire Department will be on alert as well. In fact, the fire department has set up a special webpage for fireworks safety, offering numerous safety tips—from placing pets indoors, to lighting one firework at a time, to soaking used fireworks in a bucket of water to avoid post-fun fires.

“Be extra careful with sparklers, especially with the little kids” said Dey. According to the Idaho Society of Ophthalmology, sparklers can burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit."

Dey points to community-sponsored fireworks events and giving small children glow sticks instead of sparklers. However, he said the St. Luke’s emergency room hasn’t seen any critical fire-caused injuries in the last five years.

“Most people are pretty safe,” Dey said.

As can be expected, the Fourth of July weekend can be stressful time for Boise firefighters, with more staff brought in to work the long weekend.

“Every year we hold our breath,” said Lynn Hightower, spokeswoman for the Boise Fire and Police departments, adding that a disproportionate number of grass and structure fires ignite on, and around, the Fourth. “We just hope it’s not going to happen to us,” she said.

“There are lots of small grass fires from fireworks landing in dry vegetation,” added Boise Fire Capt. Jerry McAdams. “Low humidity and high vegetation. We had a wet spring, so there was lots of growth.”

McAdams told BW that he lights so-called "safe and sane" fireworks with his wife and children while off duty, but while on duty, he has to be ready for anything.

“It is insane,” McAdams said.

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