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Celebrate Winter, Holidays with Family-Friendly Events at Nebraska State Parks

LINCOLN – State parks and historical parks throughout Nebraska are planning traditional winter events for the entire family.

Called “Winterfest,” this statewide series of events is intended to help families rekindle old holiday traditions and create new ones, while showcasing the beauty of Nebraska during the winter. Many parks offer discounted lodging in conjunction with Winterfest events, offering families a chance to spend affordable, uninterrupted time together during a busy time of year.

The Winterfest schedule is:

— Christmas in the Woods, Ponca State Park (SP), Ponca, Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 19 – There will be crafts, cookie decorating, education, lighted hayrack rides, and a snowman-building contest.

— Archery on Fire, Platte River SP, Louisville, Dec. 5 – Try archery and other shooting skills and crafts.

— Light Up the Fort, Fort Robinson SP, Crawford, Dec. 5 – Help decorate the fort’s historic buildings.

— Classic Christmas, Mahoney SP, Ashland, Dec. 12 – Visit Santa and have your photo taken with him. Take a lighted hayrack ride, enjoy crafts and decorate cookies and ornaments.

— Archery on Fire, Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center, Lincoln, Dec. 12 – Try archery and other shooting skills and crafts.

— Christmas Bird Count, Indian Cave SP, Shubert, Dec. 14 – Help identify and record bird sightings before enjoying a chili feed.

— Christmas at the Cody’s, Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (SHP), North Platte, Dec. 19-22 – Tour the decorated mansion, take a hayrack ride, taste cider and cookies, listen to live music, and visit Santa.

— Christmas at the Bowring, Arthur Bowring Ranch SHP, Merriman, Dec. 19 – Enjoy a rib eye steak dinner and live music.

— First Day Hike, Ponca SP, Ponca, Jan. 1 – Take a guided or unguided hike on the park’s 22 miles of trails.

— First Day Hike, Platte River SP, Louisville, Jan. 1 – Come along on a guided walk through the woods.

— Yule Log Quest, Platte River SP, Louisville, Jan. 2 – Kids will find crafts and a kindling hunt. After the Yule Log Quest, enjoy a bonfire and lighted hayrack ride.

— Cold Day, Warm Hearts and Family Fun, Mahoney SP, Ashland, Jan. 23 – Learn winter wilderness survival and enjoy fishing and birding.

— Valentine’s Special, Mahoney SP, Ashland, Feb. 12-15 – Enjoy a romantic getaway in a cabin or lodge room at a special rate.

— Special Valentine’s Weekend Dining, Platte River SP, Louisville, Feb. 13-14 – Enjoy a special Valentine’s menu at Walter Scott Jr. Lodge.

A complete list of events and details is available OutdoorNebraska.org/parks.asp.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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