The Gering Merchants Association has canceled its holiday parade.
The parade had been scheduled for Friday night, with a start at 6 p.m.
However, with severe weather planned, organizer ReNae Garton said the difficult decision to cancel the parade had to be made.
"I don't believe we have ever had to cancel before," she said. "We are just very concerned about the safety aspects, with it being so icy, we don't want anyone to get hurt."
The parade will not be rescheduled.
Weather forecasts have another storm moving in and continuing through the weekend. With that, Garton said, the Santa's Village grand opening will also be postponed. Santa's Village will have its grand opening next weekend Dec. 7. The village will be open for the first Saturday of the season, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A food drive had also been planned as part of the activities. People wanting to contribute to that food drive, which will benefit DOVES, can bring those items to Santa's Village.
Angela Kembel, organizer of the Scottsbluff Parade, says it is currently scheduled. Details about the parade are below.
Floats loaded with lights, elves, reindeers and even the jolly ol’ guy will lead the communities of Gering and Scottsbluff into the holiday season. Both communities will host holiday parades this weekend.
Organizers of the two parades, ReNae Garton, of the Gering Merchants Association and Angela Kembel, of the Downtown Scottsbluff Association, sat down with the Star-Herald for its Table Talk show and outlined the two events.
“We’re excited to see that be a fun community option the weekend right after Thanksgiving again this year,” Kembel, organizer of the Scottsbluff parade, said.
In Gering, the holiday season will start with the parade on Nov. 29, 6 p.m. Traditionally, the Gering Downtown Merchants have hosted the parade on the day after Thanksgiving. People have become so accustomed to it that they plan around it.
Garton said it is the kickoff for the holiday season.
“It’s our (the Gering Merchants) biggest event of the year,” Garton said, saying its the 14th year for the parade. “...It is the marking of the holiday season in Gering.”
The parade will start at 10th and T Streets and will travel to the Gering Civic Center, where Santa Claus will make his big arrival at Santa’s Village. The little ones can enjoy a lighting of the tree, tour the eight houses in the village, which is in its 18th year. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served and each child will get a goodie bag. Bring your letter to Santa with you, Garton reminds people. Every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas children can visit the village.
“It is just a fun, family activity,” she said.
During the holiday parade and afterward at the village, Garton said, the Gering Merchants opted to try something different. This year, the parade is themed “A Taste of Christmas,” and will be collecting food that will be donated to DOVES. Non-perishable foods will be collected, but supplies can also be donated, from toilet paper to combs and brushes. A full list of items that can be donated is available on the Gering Merchants Facebook page.
In Scottsbluff, the holiday parade will light up downtown starting at 6 p.m. Other activities will precede the event, with a tree decorating event at the 18th Street Plaza on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 1 p.m. A pine tree has been planted at the 18th Street Plaza to be enjoyed each year during the holiday season, Kembel said.
Prior to the parade, the 18th Street Plaza will be the site of a variety of activity, including kids being able to enjoy s’mores.
After the parade, the fun will continue. The West Nebraska Arts Center will be host Santa Claus and the Grinch at 7 p.m. Hot cocoa and cookies will be served. The Midwest Theater will host a free screening of “Polar Express.”
Garton and Kembel said the two communities come together each year to coordinate events, including inviting people showing floats in the parades to attend the other parade and cross promoting activities.
“Scottsbluff and Gering are essentially a unit,” Kembel said. “We have two separate identities, but at the same time, we are very together in what we do, and what we care about as a community. These two parades speak to that.”
Both parades have free registration and are a great way for businesses and organizations to promote themselves in a way that is also fun for kids and the community. Both parades, and the activities that are coordinated as part of the celebration, have grown every year.
“It’s so wonderful to see so many groups come out,” Garton said. “The creativity of all the people is just neat to see.”
To sign up for either parade, contact Garton or Kembel, however, both women said last minute entries are also welcome. For more details, visit the Gering Merchant Association’s Facebook page or call Garton, 308-641-2842, or the Downtown Scottsbluff Association Facebook page or Kembel, 308-765-0599.