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Moving Santa’s Village into place
November 25, 2010 Jerry Purvis    Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen

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Saturday the Gering Merchants gathered to assemble the 2010 Santa's Village, located in the parking lot of the Gering Civic Center in downtown Gering. Santa arrives Friday during the annual Christmas Parade in downtown Gering.

Santa’s Village opens Friday

Starting the day after Thanksgiving, Santa’s Village makes its ninth annual appearance at the Gering Civic Center. The village was taken out of storage and set up on Saturday morning, Nov. 20. “We’ve remained in the long-standing belief it would be cold and windy for the setup, which it was,” said Karla Niedan-Streeks, executive director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We had a great crew of guys out there and it only took about an hour and a half.”

Volunteers also filled about 900 sacks of candy while Santa’s Village was being set up. “We think that will get us started,” Niedan-Streeks said. “We’re expecting to hand out about 1,500 to 1,600 sacks during the entire time we’re open.”

The opening of Santa’s Village is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 26, following the “Holiday Dreams” parade through downtown Gering. The parade, now in its fifth year, starts at 6 p.m. and ends at the Civic Center.

“We always have early entries from some of the large businesses,” Niedan-Streeks said. “But that’s not necessary. People can decide to enter a float at the last minute.”

The parade is open to businesses, civic groups, youth organizations, bands and car clubs. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three entries – $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third. Entry time is 5 p.m. in Gardner Park in Gering. Floats will be judged between 5:30 and 5:45, so entrants will want to be there in time to be considered for prizes.

Last year, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people showed up to watch the parade.

From Gardner Park, the parade route is from 10th and T Streets, running south along 10th Street to the Gering Civic Center. Santa Claus will be riding in the last float as he makes his grand arrival at Santa’s Village.

The Village will be open Friday evening from 6:30 – 7:30 for the kids to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Hot chocolate and cookies will also be served.

Parents are invited to bring the kids and their own camera and get a picture with Santa. The Hebberts will provide Christmas music for the opening night.

Last year, Gering Merchants served more than 20 gallons of hot chocolate on opening night alone. Another five gallons or so of hot chocolate are also consumed on the Saturdays that Santa’s Village is open. Gering Bakery has been generous in supplying cookies for the kids.

Also on the evening of Nov. 26, Zion Church at 11th and O Streets will host a soup supper from 5 – 7 p.m. Proceeds will go toward the
church’s day care center. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children under 12. Cost includes your choice of main dish plus either hot cocoa or coffee to drink. Bottled water has a 50 cent extra charge. “People can either have soup there, or get it to go when they watch the parade,” Niedan-Streeks said.

She also encouraged entrants who took the time to build a float to also participate in Scottsbluff’s holiday parade on Saturday night.

Santa’s Village will be open from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Nov. 27, then on Dec. 4, 11 and 18. Saturday, Dec. 4 is also the day the North Platte Valley Museum, the Farm And Ranch Museum, and Scotts Bluff National Monument schedule special Christmas events. Children can write a letter to Santa at those events and have it delivered via Pony Express rider to Santa’s Village.
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