Every December, as many as 500 people don green and red capes and scour the forest near town for an 8-foot, notched log. Part of it is later burned during a town hall ceremony in which the hunters and townspeople gather to drink wassail, carol and watch the Yule log burn.

The first hunt was held in 1933 after Lucretia Vaile, for whom the town's museum and library are named, visited Lake Placid, N.Y., and saw a similar event there. Using a sliver of a log from the Lake Placid event, Palmer Lake kicked off the tradition.

In 1952, Palmer Lake handed the tradition to another Colorado community, sending a sliver of one of its logs to Beulah. Beulah has hosted its hunt every year since.

The ancient tradition began in Norway to celebrate the winter solstice and the return of the sun. As the Norse did then, Palmer Lake keeps a piece of its Yule log to burn during the next year's event.

Before the hunt, a committee member hides the log in the woods, sometimes lodging it in tree branches. Hunters generally return to the town hall two or three hours after they disperse.

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