Mariel and Stephen Mata were vacationing in Crested Butte when they saw a hot cocoa stand in the downtown area. It was just for decoration, and the Matas, who had just gotten engaged, took photos with it.
Mariel’s mom suggested they set up a hot cocoa stand for decoration in their front yard.
“I was like, well, it’d be cool if we actually had a real hot cocoa stand in front of our yard,” Mariel says.
They built one and had been using it just for decoration until this year, when they decided to give it a more functional purpose. Though they wanted to set it up last year, the pandemic delayed their plans.
Mariel decorated it with a wreath, garland, lights and snowflakes. And earlier this month, they turned it into a hot chocolate bar for the neighborhood.
They set it up in their front yard on Prospect Avenue with cocoa, whipped cream, marshmallows and more, plus optional boozy additions for the adults. And they put an announcement on social media to alert neighbors of their plans.
The cocoa is free, but there’s a donation jar. After the holidays, Mariel says she’ll decide to which charity the money will be donated.
Mariel says the turnout has been good.
“We’ve had a bunch of repeat neighbors that we haven’t met before, so it’s been a really great way to meet neighbors even just on our street,” Mariel says. The Matas have lived in their home for almost three years.
Earlier in December, when high temperatures were in the 80s, Mariel didn’t think anyone would show up. But she says more people showed up then than the first day they were open.
We wrote about another neighborhood couple, the Coales, who decorated the bus stop on the corner of their lot with lights and a wreath. As it turns out, the Coales and the Matas are good friends, and they just happen to live a few houses away from each other.
“Let’s create a little fun around some holiday and make this neighborhood a little bit known for something festive,” she says.
Here’s when hot cocoa will be available:
- Dec. 15: 4:30-6 p.m.
- Dec. 20: 4:30-6 p.m.
- Dec. 21: 4:30-6 p.m.
- Dec. 22: 4:30-6 p.m.