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Community ushers in Christmas season

November 23, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — The Christmas season started early this year as the community hosted a visit from the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree on its journey from the Oregon forest to Washington, D.C.

The festivities started last Saturday with a big parade through downtown Gering and the opening of Santa’s Village.

“We had a really good turnout in spite of the snow,” said parade organizer Kevin Sandberg. “It was cold but there wasn’t any wind, which just added to the holiday atmosphere.”

Sandberg said he lost count, but more than 30 floats showed up for the parade. The last entry is always Santa, on his way to the opening of Santa’s Village in the Gering Civic Center parking lot.

The next night, the Capitol Christmas Tree made its appearance in downtown Scottsbluff at a Christmas Parade Mayor Randy Meininger said it was the largest he’s ever seen.

“I was really gratified with how the parade went,” said Angela Kembel with the Downtown Scottsbluff Association. “A lot of people turned out to see the Capitol Christmas Tree and I think we had about 60 floats that participated. We had so many last-minute entries, I lost count.”

The parades may have moved on, but celebrations are planned for the rest of the holiday season.

The grand opening of Santa’s Village in Gering is on Friday, Nov. 23. Will Santa arrive by air, rail or trail? Find out during his special entrance at 6 p.m. Santa’s Village will remain open until 8 p.m.

Santa’s Village will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the next five Saturdays: Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22.

Santa’s Village will also be open Dec. 21 from 6-8 p.m. It’s a great opportunity to get pictures of the lights.

On Dec. 1, Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering and the staff of Scotts Bluff National Monument are teaming up to celebrate a High Plains Christmas at the museum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Highway 26 Carolers will provide music as kids write letters to Santa and do a few holiday crafts. Cowboy coffee and hot chocolate are available around the campfire and lunch will also be available for $5.

Kids’ letters will be delivered to Santa at his Village by a Pony Express rider at about noon.

Don’t forget that Santa will bring his reindeer along for his Dec. 1 visit to Santa’s Village.

While you’re at Legacy of the Plains, be sure to pick up a few tickets to vote for your favorite decorated tree during their annual Trees Along the Trail event.

Trees, decorated by local nonprofit organizations, are on display in the main lobby and in the museum’s rotating gallery. Prizes are awarded to benefit the mission of the winning nonprofit and service groups.

Returning this year is the Yuletide on the Prairie event. The first three Fridays December, the museum will be open late from 5-8 p.m. Visitors can tour the Main Exhibit Hall and guess the number of Christmas lights to win a prize.

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