|Christmas parade kicks off the season|
|December 05, 2013 Jerry Purvis|
A large crowd gathered on a mild winter night last Friday to celebrate the start of the holiday season with the 8th annual Christmas Parade through downtown Gering.
A record setting 25 entries made their way down 10th Street, including reindeer. Santa wrapped up the parade on his way to Santa’s Village in the Gering Civic Center, where he greeted the kids and got their gift ideas.
“It was a beautiful night for a parade,” said RaNae Garton of the Gering Merchants Association. “It was so neat to watch people gather with their lawn chairs and get snuggled up in blankets.”
The reindeer made their second appearance in the parade because of help by Valley Bank and Trust and Valley Insurance.
“We’re thankful that Santa allowed us to borrow his reindeer for the parade,” said Amy Doll of Valley Insurance. “They really added to the magic of Christmas and the kids were really excited. We hope this becomes an annual tradition for the Christmas season.”
In addition to a wide variety of entries from local businesses and civic organizations, JaCee Pilkington, Miss Nebraska 2013, made an appearance during the parade.
Winning entries included the Gering Junior High Activities Group in first place, claiming the $100 prize. Second place and $75 went to the Gering Volunteer Fire Department, who brought out their antique 1930s American LaFrance fire truck, decked out with more than 4,000 lights. In third place, winning $50 was Morgan Heil, a local girl who appeared as a Christmas angel on horseback.
About halfway through the parade, crowds started to gather at Santa’s Village. Back again after a year absence was the igloo, as favorite with the kids.
“I talked with a lot of people who came from out of town,” said Karla Niedan-Streeks, director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They were from Torrington and California and the east coast.”
She said it was hard to estimate the number of people who gathered at Santa’s Village that night, but the merchants did go through 38 dozen cookies and 11 gallons of hot chocolate.
“The evening was a big success,” Niedan-Streeks said. “It was also a great way to show how strong the Gering Merchants are in their mission to build the business community.”
Santa’s Village is open from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, 14 and 21.