Carolers and a bell choir, horse-drawn hayrack rides, reindeer and hot chocolate, hot cider and assorted other holiday treats will greet visitors during the Downtown Kearney Christmas Walk, 4-8 p.m. Thursday.
“This annual event has been going on for more than 20 years and people from near and far look forward to it every year,” said Bridgett Lavene, director of the Downtown Kearney.
Business operators are expecting a large crowd because temperatures are forecast in the low 70s. Most years, the Christmas Walk ushers in cold arctic air, but not this year.
In addition to experiencing old-fashioned fun, shoppers who visit Downtown Kearney will encounter old-fashioned values, Lavene said. “A lot of the merchants will have drawings or sales and discounts. Most of them will have refreshments like cider, cookies or something like that.”
Among other old-fashioned attractions Thursday will be Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves in Santa’s Cottage, courtesy of Kearney Park and Recreation.
The cottage will be in front of Nelson’s Furniture until Dec. 19. The cottage will be open 4-8 p.m. Thursdays and 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
“The Christmas Walk is a community event and it also is a shopping event,” Lavene said. “Our downtown has such a Christmas feel with the lights, always has something going on and it just gets better and better.”
Solid Rock is among businesses that will bring holiday entertainment to the Christmas Walk. Lavene said the Hearts Alive praise team and adult bell choir from Holy Cross Lutheran Church will perform at Solid Rock’s invitation.
Central Mercantile/Ktown Cakery and owner Kari Prinz will provide animals for a live stable.
Under the Kearney Hub’s sponsorship, Gross Belgians will bring reindeer and display them in front of NRG Media.
The horse-drawn hayrack rides will be in front of 2100-2110 Central Ave. and will be sponsored by American Family Insurance agent Miki Yaw and the Rustic Patch.
There will be performances by Just for Kix in front of Yandas and Encore Performing Arts in front of their own studio.
RockIt Event Pros will have a human snow globe in front of Bruce Furniture.
People can find Mom & Pop’s Kettle Korn in front of SCORR Marketing and coffee by MK’s Truck (an extension of The Cup) in front of the UNK mural. Regular popcorn will be available from Boy Scout Troop 158 in front of ABC Drug & Gift.
There will be a vintage red pickup perfect for a photo op in front of Edith Joi Boutique.
Kearney Catholic’s Stardust Singers will be caroling and there will be a few Salvation Army bell ringers.
Most participating businesses will have discounts and refreshments, such as hot cocoa and cookies.
The North Pole Express, Kearney Public Schools Foundation’s fundraiser, will be running Thursday night and make stops in front of the Kaufmann Center.
“This is downtown’s biggest event of the year,” Lavene said. “It’s a community and shopping event that gives people a chance to slow down and visit Kearney’s historic district and soak up the seasonal ambiance.”