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Christmas cheer comes with holiday parades

Christmas cheer comes with holiday parades

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The Star-Herald's Christopher Borro talks with RaNae Garton and Angela Scanlan about the upcoming holiday parades

Scottsbluff and Gering will both kick off the holiday season with their annual evening parades. On the weekend after Thanksgiving, spectators on Broadway and Tenth Street can treat themselves to a variety of festivities for all ages.

The Gering parade will start at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26. It will travel from Gardner Park, down the length of 10th Street, to the Gering Civic Center on M Street. “We are super excited to finally have our parade again,” RaNae Garton, chairman of the Gering Merchants Association, said. “We’ve had to cancel for two years, last year because of COVID and the year before because of the weather.”

The Scottsbluff parade was also called off due to the pandemic last year.

This year, Scottsbluff’s holiday parade will begin as scheduled at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28. Floats will start at the parking lot of Bluffs Middle School and head down Broadway to 14th Street.

“Time is flying,” Angela Scanlan, who organized the Scottsbluff parade for the Downtown Scottsbluff Association, said. “The parade’s going to be here in what feels like five minutes ... but we’re moving forward and we’re excited to be having that soon.”

For spectators at both parades, there will be plenty to see and do. In Scottsbluff, most of the attractions will be at the 18th Street Plaza. These include food trucks, fire pits and carolers. Families can also snap a photo with Santa Claus and the Grinch at the Midwest Theater. Scanlan said it was good to have an indoor space for those due to the uncertainty of the weather.

The main attractions, however, are outside. A multitude of floats, vehicles of all shapes and sizes, drive past adorned in lights and decorations. Anyone can enter their float, even by just driving it up the day of the parade. The only qualification to drive the route is that it’s well-lit.

Scanlan said the floats are a good way for organizations to make their names known to the public.

“Almost every year, I hear from a group or see a business that I wasn’t familiar with. And I’m thinking, ‘Who are you? This is fantastic! Thank you for coming out,’” she said.

Both she and Garton said people could drive their floats in both the Friday and Sunday parades. It’s free to submit entries, though Scanlan said people should email her about entering their floats. There will be a judging competition before Gering’s procession, with the winners taking home cash prizes.

Also in Gering, the holiday parade will coincide with the grand opening of Santa’s Village at the Civic Center’s parking lot. Work began on Nov. 13 to get the village up and running.

Santa’s Village features several interactive buildings for guests to wander around in and enjoy complementary cookies and cocoa. Santa Claus himself makes stops in his eponymous village from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

It will be lit up and open on Saturdays from Nov. 27 to Dec 18. It will also be open on Friday, Dec. 17. When not open, members of the public are still free to wander around and take photographs with the buildings. The village is sponsored by two organizations per week.

“One of the best quotes I ever heard was, ‘it takes a village to run the village,’ and it truly does,” Garton said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without the volunteerism of other groups.” The GMA is still looking for a few more groups to help out, as well as to store some of the buildings and equipment.

The processions mark the start of a whole host of holiday events in the Platte River Valley. These include a Christmas Market at the 18th Street Plaza on Dec. 4 and a tree-decorating contest at the Legacy of the Plains Museum.

“The Christmas fun,” Scanlan said, “doesn’t stop once the parades are over.”

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Reporter

Christopher Borro is a reporter at the Star-Herald. He can be reached at email at christopher.borro@starherald.com.

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