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Trees Along the Trail opens Dec. 1; 29 trees to be on display

December 1, 2018

GERING — Enjoy the decor of the holiday season while supporting local organizations and the Legacy of the Plains Museum as the 16th annual Trees Along the Trail sets to open on Saturday, Dec. 1.

The Legacy of the Plains Museum is hosting the 16th annual Trees Along the Trail from Dec. 1 through Dec. 22. Ahead of Saturday’s opening, area non-profits and volunteer service organizations are busy decorating their Christmas trees in the gallery and lobby at the museum. Area nonprofits and service organizations will finish designing their trees on Friday after a week-long setup and decoration process, so the public can enjoy the joys of holiday decorations while also learning about a variety of service groups around the WyoBraska region.

“When you can see the tree and get information on what they do, it’s really good,” Legacy of the Plains Curator Olivia Garl said. “Most of them have pamphlets or information that people can learn about the organization, so it’s just a great opportunity for them to come out and we love having them.”

The event is a partnership between the Legacy of the Plains Museum and the local organizations to raise funds for everyone through some festive holiday competition. While there is no theme for the Trees Along the Trail, the groups will often develop a theme related to the group’s mission. This year’s trees include a variety of patriotic and war-related themes as well as call attention to the servicemen and women, youth clubs and causes that affect our communities.

The public is invited to walk through the trees starting at the kickoff event, the High Plains Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The High Plains Christmas is a holiday tradition that includes hayrack rides, marshmallow roasting and cowboy coffee by the bonfire. Kids can also write their Christmas letters to Santa and send them on the Pony Express to Santa’s Village in downtown Gering. Lunch will be provided from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and includes a choice of vegetable or bean soup for $5 or a hot dog for $4, a beverage, homemade bread and dessert. Admission is $5 for adults and all children under 12 are free.

While visitors tour the Trees Along the Trail, they can purchase $1 tickets to cast votes for their favorite trees or organizations. Garl said ballot stuffing is welcomed for the event.

“They are more than welcome to come during our regular business hours, vote as many times as they’d like,” Garl said. “There’s no charge to come through the trees, but we do encourage people to buy some tickets to vote because it helps a lot of different organizations out, no matter who they vote for.”

Members of the Historic Saddle Club are participating in the tree decoration for the first time.

“We thought it would be a fun way to display some of our members’ collections,” Starr Lehl, Historic Saddle Club member, said. “We are always looking for a fundraiser that’s fun and raises money for the club.”

Their tree features a variety of horse-related figurines, historical items and attire.

“It was an eclectic collection of horse people stuff,” Val Baker said. “We had roping this year at the Saddle Club, so we have a rope representing that. Of course, it’s not a specific breed you need to come to the Saddle Club, so all types of horses are represented.”

The Questers Dome Rockers Chapter 1487, which focuses on the restoration and preservation of antiquities for future generations also decorated a tree at the museum.

“Our tree is in memory of the 100th year anniversary of World War I, Armistice Day,” said Cindy Duncan. “We wanted something historical for the museum.”

Since poppies are from Flanders Field and popped up in cemeteries during the war, Connie Shay said they chose to use them as decor to remember the service members who fought in the war.

After the voting closes on Dec. 22, the top three winners will be announced along with funds being distributed to all the participating organizations.

“Half of the box funds go to the museum and the other half goes to the organization,” said Legacy of the Plains Museum Director Amanda Gibbs.

H&R Block will provide cash prizes to the top three winners, with first prize worth $100, second prize at $50, and third prize at $25. In addition to the top three finishers, the Legacy of the Plains president will select a favorite. The organization selected for the president’s choice award will receive $50.

This year’s event features 29 trees, which is up from 25 last year. The size of trees varies, with the suggested height under 8 feet. The event seeks to provide the organizations publicity while also raising funds for their organizations as well as for the museum.

“It’s just a great community event that a lot of people love,” said Garl. “You just get to see all their creativity just come to life.”

Gibbs said Trees Along the Trail has raised $2,500 to $3,000 on average.

The first Trees Along the Trail was in 2003 at the North Platte Valley Museum to raise funds for the museum. Following the merger of the North Platte Valley Museum and the Farm and Ranch Museum, it has been a favorite event for the public.

For more information, call the museum at 308-436-1989.

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