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Courthouse lighting ceremony to be held Sunday

November 17, 2018

The Gage County Courthouse will once again illuminate for the holiday season during a ceremony on Sunday.

The annual courthouse lighting ceremony will be Nov. 18. This marks the 31st year for the event, which project organizer J.T. Thornburg has been involved with since the beginning.

He said the program itself will be largely unchanged from previous years, but workers have spent the week changing out bulbs and making repairs to the holiday lights that line the courthouse.

“We’re replacing all the lamps and redoing the ties that hold the light to the roof,” Thornburg said. “We put all new LED bulbs in. There’s also a weather element. The lights are outside all year and it starts to deteriorate them. We’re replacing all of them.”

Festivities will kick off at 5:25 p.m. with holiday carols performed by the Homestead Harmonizers, an area all-male vocal group.

Thornburg said the Harmonizers have been involved in the event since nearly the beginning, and the music is a favorite for many in attendance.

“People are there for the Christmas spirit and the Harmonizers bring that spirit,” he said. “They’ve been getting good crowds.”

Santa Claus is expected to land his sleigh and arrive at 5:55 p.m. The man in red will bring candy and listen to children’s holiday wishes through the evening.

The highlight of the event will occur at 6 p.m. when the courthouse grounds are illuminated by more than 30,000 holiday lights that decorate the historic building and nearby trees.

“Santa Claus will appear from the courthouse and he’ll say a few things and then starts the countdown,” Thornburg said. “That’s when we turn the lights on. Then Santa Claus is going to have a chair set up on the southeast stairway and all the kids line up on the sidewalk and get on his lap and give him their story. Santa Claus is for the kids and they always look forward to that, of course. I can’t do it without him.”

In connection with the courthouse lighting, a soup supper will be held at the Christ Episcopal Church at 524 N. Fifth St. from 4:30-7 p.m. Adult meals are $7, children can eat for $4 and children under 3 years old eat free.

It costs around $4,000 annually to maintain the courthouse lighting project.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the courthouse lighting ceremony is asked to send donations to The Gage County Foundation, c/o Holiday Lights, P.O. Box 205, Beatrice, NE 68310.

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