Lincoln’s Starry Nights Tree Festival helps kickstart the Christmas spirit

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) –  Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it’s time for some to break out their Christmas decorations.

Over the weekend, the Starry Nights Tree Festival took place at the Gateway Mall in Lincoln.

There were 16 themed Christmas trees available for auction, with all of the proceeds going to the Lincoln People’s City Mission.

The 12th annual festival took place from Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.

Tom Barber, CEO of People’s City Mission, said they had over 60,000 people walk through the free display.

“You know, people come through, see all these incredible trees and get ideas for their own trees,” he said. “The kids here, they start to get that excitement of ‘Oh boy, Christmas is on its way’. And I just think everyone has a good time, good feelings.”

Barber said they can raise anywhere from $60,000-80,000, which helps fund the costs of feeding and housing those in need.

One of the festival attendees said she had never been before, but she was happy to know she could give back to those who need it most.

“I know the homeless could definitely use some holiday cheer, so I think that is important,” said Ashlee Burrows, a festival-goer. “This time of the year isn’t easy for them. I’m sure they miss their loved ones or maybe they don’t have any.”

Volunteers helped work the event, where they had a station for children to write “Letters to Santa” and a backdrop for photos.

They said the festival is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season.

“Just makes you feel good in your heart to do it,” said John Lochner, a volunteer.

One of his co-volunteers agreed with the sentiment.

“When you see a kid smile, that’s all there is,” said Harry Probert. “Makes me happy.”

Barber said the money they raise from the festival isn’t just financially supportive, it’s also emotionally supportive to those who need it during this time of year.

“The holidays, it’s just a time it’s really important to include people that are homeless or struggling financially because otherwise, they’re on the outside looking in on everybody else celebrating,” he said. “So having something like this, being able to get some of our homeless folks here and help them at the mission to celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving, those are critical things in someone’s spirit and it’s important for us to do as a community.”

To donate to the Starry Nights Christmas Festival, visit this link.

Categories: Lancaster, Nebraska News, Top Stories