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Families will be gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving with lots of good food, football on TV and talk of Black Friday shopping deals.

For families looking to get out of the house during this long holiday weekend, there are many events to choose from that promote holiday spirit.

Following is a roundup of family-friendly events:

Holiday Lights Festival The annual lighting ceremony will take place Thanksgiving evening in the Gene Leahy Mall at 14th and Farnam streets in Omaha. Musical Kids will take the stage at 5:40 p.m.

At 6 p.m., Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert will lead the crowd in a countdown to reveal the 2018 lighting display. Some shops and restaurants in the Old Market will be open before and after the ceremony.

The lighting display will be illuminated from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m. from Thanksgiving through Jan. 6.

Making Spirits Bright Holiday Concert

The Making Spirits Bright Holiday Concert will be performed at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving in the Holland Performing Arts Center located at 13th and Douglas streets in Omaha.

The free concert, supported by the Mammel Family Foundation, features a special guest vocalist, Mary Carrick, accompanied by the Nebraska Wind Symphony.

Santa’s Magic

Friday is the opening day for Santa’s Magic, an interactive show at the Omaha Children’s Museum with indoor snowfall and characters like elves, the Snow Queen and Snow King, and Santa.

Santa will arrive with the Omaha Fire Department at 10 a.m. in front of Omaha Children’s Museum. The first show of the day will begin at 10:30 a.m.

At the end of each show, children will be able to talk one-on-one with Santa and get their picture taken with him. Multiple shows will be held daily and are included with museum admission. The shows will conclude on Dec. 23.

Christmas at Union Station

The Christmas at Union Station festivities at The Durham Museum in Omaha will kick off with the annual tree lighting ceremony about 7 p.m. Friday.

Activities from 4-8 p.m. also will include live music from Michael Lyon, cookie decorating and holiday crafts, and a visit from Santa.

The holiday cultural trees display also will make its debut. The display, which can be viewed through Jan. 6, showcases how cultures from around the world celebrate the holiday season. Each tree is decorated by a local Omaha cultural group and is accompanied by interpretative text explaining the meaning behind the various decorations and unique traditions of each culture.

Holiday Poinsettia Show

Thousands of poinsettias will fill the floral display hall at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha during the annual holiday poinsettia show.

A 20-foot-tall poinsettia tree will be at the center of the show. More than 5,000 poinsettias in nearly 20 different varieties were grown for the 2018 display. They will be surrounded by a cascade of twinkling white lights, glittering ornaments and model garden trains.

This year’s show theme is “The Year of the Bird,” celebrating 100 years of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The poinsettia show will be on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Jan. 6.

Holiday lighting celebration

Village Pointe Shopping Center in Omaha will host its 15th Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Friday.

The Peppermint Elves will be presenting a family holiday concert at 6 p.m. in the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Amphitheater. Jingle bells will be distributed to children and free hot cider and cookies will be provided.

Santa will arrive by Cinderella carriage at 7 p.m., and led by the Arlington High School Marching Band along with storybook and holiday characters. The parade will start on the west end of Main Street and run to the east before winding back to the roundabout area.

Free carriage rides will be offered immediately following the lighting ceremony until 10 p.m. Santa will be inside the Marcus Theatres lobby after the lighting event.

MainStreet of Fremont Christmas Walk

MainStreet of Fremont will be hosting its annual Christmas Walk on Saturday in downtown Fremont. Downtown businesses will be offering dozens of festive events, entertainment, food and deals throughout the day.

The earliest events on the schedule begin at 7 a.m., with festivities carrying on into the night.

This year will feature a new twist: a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. in the Schweser’s parking lot, featuring a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus and a photo opportunity with live reindeer, kicking off evening events like free rides in a horse-drawn carriage from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Park Avenue.

That day is also Small Business Saturday, where shoppers across the country are encouraged to do their Christmas shopping at local businesses. Downtown businesses will be offering a wide array of opportunities to get in the holiday spirit.

For a full list of events, discounts and specials, go to or visit MainStreet of Fremont’s Facebook page.

Holiday history tour

Visitors are invited to step back in time and learn about Christmas time in the Old Market Entertainment District during an Old Market Holiday History Tour.

The tours will be offered from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at 11th and Howard streets in Omaha.

An expert local tour guide will share the vibrant holiday past of the Old Market and downtown Omaha. Among the special things visitors will see is a display of items from a past JL Brandeis & Sons Christmas window. Admission is free.

Scribner Holiday Parade

Scribner will welcome the Christmas season with a variety of events on Saturday.

A soup supper will be served from 4:30-6 p.m. Lighting of the Main Street lights and the holiday parade will be at 5 p.m. in downtown Scribner.

Guests are invited to sign up at businesses for Chamber bucks. The winners will be drawn at 7 p.m.

Santa also will be on hand and there will be a kids’ coloring contest.

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Reporter/news assistant

Tammy Greunke is a native of Cedar Bluffs and reports on entertainment news, general news and sports.

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