LINCOLN, Neb. – Communities in Nebraska continue to rally around their state park areas to reinstate events and delay temporary closures.
The Candlelight Tour on Nov. 2 is back on the calendar at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park (SHP) near Fort Calhoun. Alexandria State Recreation Area (SRA) near Fairbury will remain open through Oct. 20 to accommodate a Halloween event Oct. 18-19. Community volunteers will also keep Sandy Channel and Long Pine SRAs open.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recently announced the temporary closure of all services and vehicle access at 24 state recreation areas and five state historical parks – including Fort Atkinson, Alexandria, Sandy Channel and Long Pine–for the fall through spring season.
The reason for the temporary park closures is to redirect Game and Parks staff and resources from the closed areas in an effort to reduce the more than $30 million backlog of deferred maintenance needs and meet compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and environmental requirements.
With the exception of Nov. 2, Fort Atkinson SHP will be closed Oct. 7 through April 30. The Friends of Fort Atkinson and Fort Atkinson Foundation will provide resources and funding to stage the Candlelight Tour, a themed event in which guests tour several buildings by candlelight as volunteers in period costume portray various activities. The theme of this year’s event is the death of Lieutenant Gabriel Field at the Fort. Guests must register by calling 402-445-0706.
Alexandria was scheduled to close Oct. 7 and reopen May 1 until partnerships enabled Game and Parks to push back the closing to accommodate a special Halloween event that encourages guests to decorate their campers and hand out candy to children in Halloween costumes.
The Commission continues to work with communities to extend the park seasons at Keller and Walgren SRAs and reinstate the Christmas at the Cody’s event at Buffalo Bill SHP in North Platte.
“We are proud that people in communities are coming together to make positive things happen,” said Jim Douglas, director of Game and Parks. “It just shows how much Nebraskans care about our state park areas.”