YMCA of the Prairie branches will connect families and spread Christmas cheer in December with new and old family traditions.
Don Sjogren Community YMCA, Holdrege
The Don Sjogren Community YMCA in Holdrege (1415 Broadway) is partnering with the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce to organize the new Santa’s Sleigh 5K during the chamber’s first annual Winter Festival on Dec. 11. This year’s race theme is Ugly Sweater, so participants are encouraged to don their ugliest sweaters while they run or walk a 5K in downtown Holdrege. The 10 a.m. race starts and ends at the Holdrege City Auditorium, where the Lion’s Club will be hosting a pancake feed. Participants may register up until the race day and will receive an Ugly Sweater hoodie (at a later date). Register at www.runsignup.com or by calling the YMCA at (308) 995-4050. The fee is $30 per person/$50 per couple and $75 per family with kids.
Also on Dec. 11, the YMCA will host the FREE “Light Up the Y” Santa and Gingerbread houses event. Area businesses and organizations are encouraged to sponsor/decorate a tree outside the YMCA. Tree sponsorships are $50 and must be reserved by Dec. 1. The trees will be lit for the first time on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. in a special ceremony at the YMCA with carolers and Santa present. Inside the Y, families can decorate mini “gingerbread houses” with all the candy and supplies provided. The entire event will be from 5-6:30 p.m. and is free to anyone.
The YMCA in Holdrege will also continue the popular Polar Express event that started in 2020. The Polar Express train (school bus) will leave the station (the YMCA) at 6 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 19, 20 and 21. While aboard the train, participants will sip hot cocoa and listen to the “Polar Express” book while viewing neighborhood Christmas lights. Upon returning to the YMCA, all are invited to cozy up around campfires and enjoy s’mores. Please pre-register for the Polar Express as soon as possible as tickets are limited. Tickets are $5 per person (free for children 3 and younger). Purchase tickets at www.ymcaoftheprairie.org/register or by calling the YMCA at (308) 995-4050.
Orthman Community YMCA, Lexington
The Orthman Community YMCA in Lexington (1207 N. Grant) will host FREE holiday hayrack rides on Friday, Dec. 17, from 7-9 p.m. Families will enjoy hot cocoa and cookies while taking a ride on a hayrack pulled by Bobbie Jo Messersmith’s team of horses. The event will start and end at the YMCA and is the YMCA’s Christmas gift to the community.
Orthman YMCA staff members will also be spreading Christmas cheer by volunteering for the Operation Santa mission to distribute toys and gifts to needy children in the community. YMCA staff will also provide free cider and coffee during community firetruck rides with Santa and will have a float in the Christmas parade on Dec. 5.
YMCA at Gothenburg Health, Gothenburg
The YMCA at Gothenburg Health (910 20th St.) will host two fun holiday events in December, one for kids and one for adults. On Dec., 13, the Y invites anyone 50 and older to a Christmas Trivia Senior Social. The free event will be from 4-5 p.m. at the Senior Center and will include trivia, games and snacks hosted by the YMCA. Although the event is free, pre-registration is encouraged by calling the YMCA at (308) 537-4022.
Then, on Dec. 15, kids in grades K-6 are invited to the Winter Wonderland of Fun, where they will enjoy music, games and cookie decorating. The event is from 2:45-4 p.m. and costs $7 for members and $14 for non-members. Register by Dec. 6 to attend.
Gothenburg YMCA staff will also be spreading Christmas cheer at the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce’s Magic on Main Street on Tuesday, Dec. 7, from 5-7 p.m. where the Y will sponsor the fire pit story reading.
For more information on any of these events or other Y programs, visit www.ymcaoftheprairie.org