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Christmas events, Christmas giving

December 17, 2011

Kind of like over the summer around here, the weeks leading up to Christmas are packed with events – so many events that you can’t possibly attend all of them and still live a normal life.


The kickoff begins around Thanksgiving, with downtown parades. I helped decorate the Gering Merchants’ float in time for the Friday Christmas parade in Gering. If you didn’t get enough parade excitement, there’s a downtown Scottsbluff parade the following day. (I missed the parades.)

The first Saturday in December brings Christmas open house events at four area museums – Chimney Rock National Historic Site, North Platte Valley Museum (more on that later), Farm And Ranch Museum and Scotts Bluff National Monument – with music, food and activities for children as well as the opening of Santa’s Village in downtown Gering. (I worked the NPVM event, so I missed all the others.)

Then there is the second weekend in December, which brought “A Very Valley Christmas” with storytelling, caroling and a movie at the Midwest Theater; a Christmas concert by Valley Voices community chorus; the Scottsbluff High School Drill Team Holiday Extravaganza; and “Stories and Songs Around the Tree” at Western Nebraska Community College, featuring Western Nebraska Winds performing holiday music and the Forensics Team presenting reader’s theatre. I attended the latter event.

Western Nebraska Winds. Interesting how the Christmas color was dominated by red. Artifact of Husker country, or was the band instructed to choose a particular color?

Forensics Team reading “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”


Not only is December filled with Christmas events to attend, there are also numerous ways to help others in need: Operation Christmas Child, Salvation Army bell-ringing, Christmas for Haiti Homes, Project “Santa Mom,” CAPWN Angel Tree, the Truck Full of Love, the Gift of Love. (I participated in the latter and had a lot of fun shopping with my mom for gifts for the kid I picked specifically because he wanted books. Book nerd shopping for a budding book nerd!) It’s amazing to see people’s generosity at this time of year.

A fun event that gives back to the community

Then there’s an annual, month-long event that links both fun and the spirit of giving – an event I have a huge personal stake in – the North Platte Valley Museum’s “Trees Along the Trail” Christmas tree decorating contest (scroll down to “winter”).

Nonprofit and community service organizations set up and decorate artificial trees in the museum gallery. The decorating is super fun, since the groups use a lot of creativity to come up with the decorating theme for their trees, and many host a mini party when they put up their tree. The museum has 25 trees in the contest this year (plus a “sleeper tree” you’ll have to discover for yourself), and they are beautiful to behold.

Museum admission is waived during the event to allow visitors to apply their money to vote tickets. Visitors place their vote tickets, which cost just $1 each, into bags in front of their favorite trees. (I encourage museum visitors to bring in their “10s and 20s” to spend on tickets, but most people spend dollar bills, leading to a bit of ribbing when I make the bank deposit of a thick stack of dollar bills. Though one museum visitor graced us with a 100 dollar bill this year!)

Of each dollar vote, 50 cents goes to the museum, and 50 cents goes to the charity represented by the tree. On top of that, the three trees getting the most votes win $100, $50 and $25, courtesy of event sponsor H&R Block.

Yesterday, I looked at the December museum attendance numbers at the museum so far. With just a week left in the contest, we’re down 200 visitors compared to last year. Can you help make up the difference? Can you and your friends, family and neighbors shatter last year’s attendance record and get 300 people into the museum before 4 p.m. on Friday? I challenge you!

To entice you to visit the museum, I’ll post a string of photographs of some of the tree ornaments. You have to visit in person to see how cool the trees really are. (This is not a complete list of all the trees – it’s just a taste!)

North Platte Valley Artists Guild

TeamMates Mentoring Program


Student Nurses Association at UNMC College of Nursing

Operation Christmas Child

Midwest Theater

Festival of Hope

Gering Merchants Association

DHHS Foster Care

Volunteer Center of Scotts Bluff County

Scotts Bluff County Homemakers

Rebecca Winters Geneaological Society

American Association of University Women

Daughters of the American Revolution

The museum is open today and Sunday 1-4 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Monday). See you there!

UPDATE: North Platte Valley Museum permanently closed in 2013 to join forces with the former Farm And Ranch Museum to become Legacy of the Plains Museum at 2930 Old Oregon Trail in Gering. See the Legacy of the Plains Museum website for the most recent updates. The Christmas tree decorating contest tradition continues at Legacy of the Plains.

Copyright 2011 by Katie Bradshaw

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2011 2:53 pm

    You’re the best cheerleader ever!!!


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