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Large crowd lines 10th Street at Gering parade
December 02, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photo by Frank Marquez/ Gering Citizen The Western States Bank float featured (from left) Amy Doll, Maggie Laughlin, Mason Samp, Lauren Doll, and Jolee Schwery as snowmen at the Gering Merchants’ Christmas Holiday Parade Friday night.

The day after Thanksgiving, the twin cities came out to kick off the holiday season in a big way. Gering celebrated its annual Christmas Parade on Friday evening, Nov. 25.

“We had a wonderful turnout,” said RaNae Garton of the Gering Merchants. “The weather was beautiful and we had a big crowd. We had 27 entries from businesses and community groups and it just keeps getting bigger and better every year.”

The first place float winner as the Gering High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In second was Panhandle Coop. In third was Fletcher Fry’s entry, “Protecting the Homefront.”

With the end of the Christmas Parade, Santa’s Village opened in the parking lot of the Gering Civic Center and Santa was there to hear from the kids what they wanted for Christmas.

“Just seeing the kids’ reaction was beautiful,” Garton said. “They were so happy and excited to see Santa and look inside the buildings. It’s just so much fun to watch. That’s why we do this every year.”

The Christmas Parade through downtown Scottsbluff on Nov. 26 also turned out to be a big hit.

“We had a great turnout and it was a lot of fun,” said organizer Angela Kembel. “A lot of people commented afterward this was one of the best attended and longest parades they’ve seen in a long time.”

More than 35 floats participated in parade and while it was cold, the evening wasn’t windy and there was no precipitation. The first place winning float was from Lil’ Bit of Everything shop in downtown Scottsbluff. In second place was Menard’s and third went to Taco John’s.

After the parade, the Elks Club hosted an “after parade” party with a soup supper, hot chocolate, a bell choir and a visit with Santa, along with pictures.

“It was magical to hear bells and see a line of kids waiting to see Santa,” Kembel said. “I’m grateful to everyone at the Elks for hosting the party.”

Christmas parades through downtown Gering and Scottsbluff is just the start for the valley’s seasonal celebrations. The public is invited to take part in how our ancestors celebrated Christmas in the 19th century.

Scotts Bluff National Monument, Legacy of the Plains Museum, Chimney Rock National Historic Site and the Melbeta Post Office will be hosting a variety of activities that evoke Christmases of the past on Saturday, Dec. 3.

“Christmas on the Prairie” at Scotts Bluff National Monument offers visitors a chance to make decorations in the style of 19th century holiday ornaments from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children and adults will have a chance to make a variety of old style ornaments to decorate their homes and trees this Christmas. Returning from previous years are: paper chains, popcorn strings, paper lanterns and stars and dough ornaments to paint. New this year is a Santa Claus made from corn cob, felt and a cotton ball. Sing traditional carols to the music of the Village Players and enjoy refreshments courtesy of the Oregon Trail Museum Association.

At Legacy of the Plains, “High Plains Christmas” will give people an opportunity to enjoy some outdoor and indoor fun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ride on a hay rack, toast marshmallows, work on crafts, send letters to Santa via Pony Express, listen to the Sugar Valley Singers and purchase bean soup and hot chocolate, while supplies last. The annual “Trees Along the Trail” features trees decorated by community non-profit organizations competing for your votes. The ballots will be available for a dollar each. This is the kickoff of the event which will continue through Dec. 23. The contest benefits the museum and area charities. As always, ballot box stuffing is encouraged.

Chimney Rock National Historic Site will celebrate “Christmas at the Rock” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors will have a chance to make holiday crafts, play games, and enjoy holiday treats.

The Melbeta Post Office will be hosting an open house from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. this year. They will have coffee, cider, and cocoa, as well as cookies for folks who stop in. Be sure to see the historic mailboxes and service window, as well as an antique stamp collection that will be on display. All packages and holiday cards mailed that day will be hand postmarked the old fashioned way. The post office is located at 101 2nd St. (one block south of Hwy 92 and CR 29 intersection), 308-783-1844.

Entrance to each of the sites will be free all day on Dec. 3.

Santa’s Village in Gering will also be open on Dec. 3, 10, and 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for kids who want to stop by. Also, because of many requests, Santa’s Village will be open the evening of Friday, Dec. 23 from 5 – 7 p.m.

Also on Dec. 3, the second annual Jingle Jog starts from the First State Bank in Scottsbluff at 3 p.m. and covers a three-mile route from downtown Scottsbluff, past the library, out to the Monument Mall and back downtown to the 18th Street Mall.

After the Jingle Jog, the public is invited to downtown Scottsbluff for “Christmas on Broadway” from 4 – 7 p.m. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the season with live reindeer, holiday music, treats around the fire pits, holiday picture stations, a giant letter to Santa, caroling, Santa and more while you finish your Christmas shopping with downtown merchants.
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