- Associated Press - Thursday, November 26, 2015

MINDEN, Neb. (AP) - Minden will begin its monthlong celebration of its Christmas lights when switches are flipped at dusk Friday.

Minden city and tourism officials have been planning the 100th anniversary celebration for more than a year, according to the Kearney Hub (https://bit.ly/1QJ9bAO ). In addition to the bright holiday lights, there will be a carnival, hayrack rides and ice skating.

“We’re trying to cover a lot of bases in a short period of time and trying to make it as fun for as many people as possible,” Minden Mayor Ted Griess said. “I think most everyone who has lived here for a decade or more is very impressed that it’s a tradition that’s carried on for 100 years. It’s something the community can boast about.”

The tradition began in 1915, when the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans organization, planned its annual encampment in Minden. Residents wanted lights strung around the town square and north for two blocks to the city auditorium to welcome the organization members.

In 1946 a set of tower bells and a music system were installed inside the Kearney County Courthouse, allowing Minden residents to start performances of “The Light of the World” Christmas pageant.

There are 10,000 to 15,000 lights decorating the courthouse. Each year when the lights come down, every bulb is unscrewed and put in separate boxes to prevent them from breaking. The wire strands are rolled up and packed away for the next year.

Minden was declared Nebraska’s Christmas City in 1996 by then Gov. Ben Nelson, and the name stuck.

“I tell people I’m from the Christmas City first, Minden second,” Griess said.


Information from: Kearney Hub, https://www.kearneyhub.com/

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