Winter Wonderland and Christmas Express return to Lincoln starting November 27th

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[November 22, 2020]     While Christmas is several weeks away, the Downtown Lincoln business group has been busy for the past several weeks planning the return of the highly successful Christmas events of 2019.

The local merchants are in a bind with the coronavirus and have talked a great deal about how to attract visitors to the heart of the city while maintaining a COVID-19 safe environment for shoppers and shop staff.

The bottom line is, they will be asking everyone to follow the Phase four recovery plan guidelines. When shopping, wear a face mask. Carry sanitary wipes and clean your hands regularly, observe social distancing and respect the “personal space” of those around you. The merchants will be working to the same end. Staff will wear their face masks and thoroughly cleaning common areas regularly.

Though the virus may make our lifestyles a little different right now, the retailers want shoppers to know that their stores are well stocked and they are looking forward to a healthy holiday season.

To enhance the shopping experience, retailers have planned a series of events starting on Friday, November 27th and running through Saturday, December 12th.

Winter Wonderland

On Friday evening, November 27th, the community will be invited to the second annual tree lighting ceremony in downtown Lincoln. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. this year and last approximately 30 minutes. Afterward, visitors are invited to walk around the Logan County Courthouse Square and view each of the individually decorated trees.

Social distancing is requested.

This year, the setting for the trees will be a bit different. To help folks keep their distance from one another, trees are going to outline the courthouse lawn. Guests can view all the trees from the exterior sidewalk that surrounds the courthouse.

Because the Logan County Courthouse reconstruction project will be getting underway soon, there are some fine line details that need to be worked out.

Which side of the courthouse the official lighting ceremony will take place will be announced closer to the date.

Area businesses, organizations and individuals have purchased and are responsible for decorating their own tree. Trees will be lit Black Friday evening.

Kathie Williams of Small Town Creations, who started the Winter Wonderland sold approximately 45 trees last year. This year Williams pre-ordered 70 trees and there are still several available for anyone who would like to participate.

The cost of the tree is $50. With that, the tree is provided along with a weatherproof sign with the buyer name. Electricity and extension cords are also provided.

Williams arranges for trees to be delivered and staked around the courthouse. The signage for each tree is placed immediately, the buyers are free to come and decorate their tree just prior to lighting night.

Buyers may decorate with two strands of Christmas lights and non-breakable ornaments and decorations. They may not use tinsel or foil garland, no glass or breakable ornaments, and no edible ornaments. All decorations should be securely attached to the tree. If a tree should become “undone” due to wind or other conditions, it is the buyer’s responsibility to come and put it back together.

Williams recently reported that from the list of participants last year, about 10 have chosen not to do a tree this year. At the same time she has 10 to 12 new participants for this year. There are still plenty of trees available, so if anyone is interested, they should contact Williams at Small Town Creations on the west side of the Square. The shop is open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 10 a.m. and closed on Monday’s.

Horse drawn carriage rides by Red Gate Farms

Last year, the business community brought carriage rides to the downtown area, using a local business. This year, it was a sad day when the group learned that the business owners have moved out of the area, and won’t be available for the carriage rides.

Then, they learned about Red Gate Farms in Petersburg, and that the farm also offered carriage rides. Even though it was not yet Halloween when they contacted the owners at Red Gate, they learned that the company is booked most of the time through the holiday season.

At the same time, they did have openings for three Friday evenings starting on November 27th.

Free rides around the courthouse square will be offered from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 27th, December 11th, and December 18th.

The carriage rides will be an amazing way to see the winter wonderland tree display from a short distance and allow visitors to enjoy the experience while distancing from others.

Christmas Express kicks off on Small Business Saturday

This year about 25 downtown businesses are going to be participating in the Christmas Express. Based on a train theme the draw to shopping downtown in Lincoln, in addition to the great merchandise that is offered, is the opportunity to win a gift basket valued at more than $500.

When stores open on Saturday, November 28th, shoppers will have the chance to pick up a train ticket at the check-out. When they make a purchase in one of the participating businesses, the clerk will ‘punch’ or stamp the ticket.

Shoppers should keep their ticket handy through December 12th. On December 12th (or before if you qualify), tickets can be turned in at Small Town Creations to be entered into a drawing for the gift basket.

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To qualify for the drawing the ticket needs to be stamped by more than half of the businesses listed. This is a great opportunity for shoppers. They can spend approximately two weeks visiting shops, and getting ready for Christmas. Then on December 18th someone will be the lucky winner. The drawing will be done on the 18th via Facebook live.

The gift basket will include gift cards or merchandise from downtown stores or businesses. The businesses have the option of contributing a $25 gift card or $25 worth of merchandise.

That extra $500 will be a great way to top off your Christmas shopping, or hang on to it and treat yourself to a shopping spree after Christmas!

Gingerbread Contest

For the second year, the Logan County Tourism Bureau is hosting a Gingerbread Contest at the Depot Visitors Center. The contest is open to all, so grab those cookie sheets and get baking!

The staff at the LCTB will be accepting entries for the contest on Monday, November 23rd through Wednesday, November 25th. Choose your own theme and create your masterpiece for all to enjoy.

There is no entry fee for this contest, and all age groups are welcome. So schools, local businesses, and individuals are all being invited to participate.

Starting on Saturday, November 28th, visitors can view the gingerbread displays in person at the Depot. Visitors choose their favorite display and vote for the winner.

New this year, the gingerbread will also go digital with pictures posted on Facebook. Viewers via social media may also vote for their favorite by stamping their “like” on the photo.

The winner will be announced on December 18th via Facebook live.

The LCTB is also looking for entrants! As mentioned, this is open to anyone in the Logan County area. Find details about how to enter here

Santa Claus IS coming to town along with some other characters

On Saturday, December 5th, Santa and Mrs. Claus will take to the streets of Lincoln, visiting with children as they stroll about. The Clauses’ plan to arrive in town at approximately 9 a.m. and will be strolling around the square until 10:30 a.m.

The group reached out to Santa to find out if he is COVID-aware, and he assured them he is. Santa and Mrs. Claus will “mask-up” for their walk around town.

In addition to Santa, the Downtown Lincoln business group is reaching out to several other great Christmas characters who may appear around town at various times during the Christmas Express event.

The group also contacted to Kim Patterson-Quinn at the Lincoln Community High School. ‘P-Q’ is working on bringing some special caroling and music to the downtown area. Additional details will be provided as they become available for both the musicians and Christmas characters.

Santa in the Window

One of the strangest parts of this year will be the manner in which Santa is able to interact with children.

Many of the downstate shopping malls are doing Santa behind Plexiglas. Kids can approach the glass and speak with Santa, but they cannot sit on his lap. Santa is deeply saddened by this, but still knows that it is better than not getting to see his little ones at all.

When Sorrento’s owner Lisa Drew heard about the Plexiglas in malls, it sparked an idea of how Santa could have some cool sit down time with local children.

She came up with Santa in the Window.

On Monday, December 7th, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. children will be able to enjoy a visit with Santa, through the front window at Sorrento’s.

Santa will be inside sitting at the storefront window. A bench will be set outside for children to come and sit down and talk to him via baby monitors. Children will be able to have a real conversation with Santa, telling his wishes for Christmas and asking each child his all-important test question – “Have you been good this year?”

Santa may also be in Lincoln one more time before Christmas. Details are still being worked out, so look for more information next week.

All in all, Christmas will be alive and well in Lincoln this year. The downtown businesses are anxious for the holiday season and are hopeful that the community will do at least part of their Christmas shopping in their beautiful stores.

For those who have not been in our downtown shops, now is a great time to go. The stores offer so much, shoppers could easily do the large majority of their shopping without ever leaving town. We hope you will give them a try this season, and bear in mind, each time you buy you are just that much closer to winning that big gift basket.

[Nila Smith]


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