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Explore the parks with these Game and Parks events in December

Spend some time in Nebraska’s state parks this fall and winter by attending a variety of events throughout December.

Don’t forget a vehicle park entry permit is required at Nebraska state parks. Get one at OutdoorNebraska.gov or at state park entrances.

Enjoy murder mystery at Arbor Lodge Mansion

Experience a true whodunnit with a seasonal twist during Murder at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at Arbor Lodge Mansion. Participate in the holiday-themed evening of mystery and mayhem as you work to solve clues and break the case Dec. 3, 10 and 17 from 6-9 p.m.

Participants will receive a character to portray as they arrive at the mansion. Costume props will be available, but guests are encouraged to wear their own ugly Christmas sweater.

Add to the fun with dinner at Timbers and a stay at Lied Lodge. Make your room reservation online or by calling 800-546-5433. Dining reservations are required. Reserve your table here or call 402-873-8740.

Visit the calendar event entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov for more information.

Decorate a tree at Lewis and Clark for a chance to win a cabin stay

Put your tree decorating skills to the test for a chance to win a two-night cabin stay at Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area near Crofton.

The contest is open through Dec. 26 with judging to occur Dec. 27-29; one winner will claim the prize two-night cabin stay.

Contestants, limited to household units, may decorate one tree along the park’s entrance driveway.

Contestants are encouraged to use environmentally friendly decorations, such as popcorn garland, solar powered lights, bird seed pinecones, wildlife-friendly decorations and more.

Then take a photo of the decorated tree and send it to npgc.lewis.clark@nebraska.gov and tag @nebraskanortheastparks on Facebook.

All decorations that are not wildlife friendly must be removed by Jan. 8.

Ponca, Indian Cave hosting Christmas Bird Count events

Take part in an annual community science project and participate in the Christmas Bird Count in December. Events will take place Dec. 14 at Ponca State Park and Dec. 29 at Indian Cave State Park.

The Christmas Bird Count is the National Audubon Society’s 123-year-old event that takes place every year around Christmas, where bird lovers of all ages and skills count all the birds they can see in a 24-hour period.

Indian Cave’s event will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. while Ponca’s will be from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided at both parks.

Visit the calendar event entries at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov for more information.

Have fun with Ponca State Park Creative Snow Building Contest

Get artistic when the snow falls this winter by participating in the Ponca State Park Creative Snow Building Contest.

Through March 19, build something fun out of snow at the park, then take a photo of it. Enter it in the contest by emailing it to lynn.mellick@nebraska.gov. Prizes will be awarded for the top three places. First place is a free night’s stay in a Ponca State Park mini-lodge.

The snow creation could resemble a person, animal or object or any size. Photos will be displayed on the Ponca State Park NE Facebook page, and winners will be announced March 22.

Contestants must supply their own accessories, which will stay with the snow creation. Contestants should be respectful of others’ creations and possessions.

For more information, call the park at 402-755-2284.

Enjoy Christmas at the Cody’s at Buffalo Bill Ranch SHP

Come to North Platte for Christmas at the Cody’s this holiday season at Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 16-20, tour the mansion’s 18 rooms, filled with holiday decorations. Walk the grounds and see holiday lights and decorations. Carolers and instrumentals will perform in the Lady’s parlor nightly. Experience the historic barn, decorated festively with help from North Platte’s first responders.

There will be tractor-drawn hayrack rides Dec. 16-17 and horse-drawn hayrack rides Dec. 18-20.

Visit the calendar event entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov for the full schedule.

Ponca SP to host Winterfest on Dec. 31

Close out the year in style at Ponca State Park with Winterfest on Dec. 31.

Highlights of the day include the National Championship Fruitcake Fling at noon, the Yule Log Quest at 2 p.m. and lighted hayrack rides.

In the fruitcake fling, contestants throw wildlife-friendly fruitcakes for distance. Prizes are awarded in four age groups.

In the Yule Log Quest, teams of three to five members compete in a series of five challenges, followed by a series of five clues that ultimately lead them to the hidden Yule log. Prizes are awarded to the first team to find the Yule log and to the team with the most unique name.

For more information, call the park at 402-755-2284.

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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