Home owners, festival organizers prepare for annual Carousel of Homes and Festival of Trees

Carrie and Eric Lienemann tap her family’s multigenerational love for antiques and Christmas in decorating their home at 401 S. Baytree Ave. The Lienemanns, part of the North Platte Community Playhouse Guild’s 2019 Carousel of Homes, say the Santa Claus head hanging next to Carrie plays the role of a wizard the rest of the year. Carrie credits her mother, Jody Fleck, and her grandmother, the late Barbara Rector, for her decorating preferences.

Decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving presented unfamiliar challenges for some of the North Platte participants in Saturday’s upcoming 2019 Carousel of Homes.

There’s rushing around to deck one’s halls weeks in advance, a common phenomenon for the four pairs of homeowners and leaders of the allied Festival of Trees event at the Prairie Arts Center.

“I don’t usually do it before Thanksgiving, so this is new to me,” said Sara Catlett, who decorated her and husband Josh’s house at 400 W. Circle Drive around homeschooling their four children.

She had another problem: The Catletts usually buy a real Christmas tree. Not this year.

Leaders of the sponsoring North Platte Community Playhouse Guild “wanted me to do this last year, and I said, ‘Give me another year,’” Sara said.

Knowing this year’s Carousel was ahead, she said, the Catletts bought an artificial tree last year on post-holiday clearance.

Now that it’s up, “I kind of enjoy not having needles,” Sara said. “Growing up, every other year we’d get a real tree. We may go back to that tradition.”

Tickets remain available at $15 each for the Playhouse Guild’s 34th annual Carousel, said Diane Finch-Oerter, the group’s secretary and public relations chair.

They can be bought at Prairie Friends and Flowers, 320 W. Fourth St.; The Quilt Rack & Wool Cubby, 101 W. Front St.; The Flower Market, 510 N. Dewey St.; and Westfield Floral at Westfield Shopping Center, 1845 West A St.

Tickets will admit their bearers to the Catlett home and three others from 1 to 5 p.m. and again from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Finch-Oerter said.

The Playhouse Guild’s “Winter Wonderland Boutique,” featuring Christmas decor and baked goods for sale, will be open from noon to 5 p.m. in the Patty Birge Room at the Neville Center for the Performing Arts, 301 E. Fifth St.

Meanwhile, the 12th annual Festival of Trees will be open at the Prairie Arts Center, 416 N. Jeffers St., starting at 11 a.m. Visitors won’t need a Carousel ticket to enter, said Executive Director Holly Carlini.

Santa Claus will hold court at the PAC throughout the event, and appetizers and a cash bar featuring Pals Brewery beers and homemade “Christmas Sangria” will be featured at a 7 p.m. social hour.

Festival of Trees visitors can place silent auction bids on 20 decorated trees and 18 wreaths throughout the day, Carlini said. They’ll be thrown in with on-the-spot bids at the 8 p.m. live auction.

Saturday marks the fourth year the two pre-Thanksgiving holiday fundraisers have coordinated their schedules.

It’s also the third year at the PAC for the Festival of Trees, which originated at the Interstate 80 motel now known as Ramada by Wyndham, organizer Darrell Drullinger said.

All of the Playhouse Guild’s net Saturday proceeds after expenses, plus a portion of this year’s Festival of Trees income, will help cover the estimated $40,650 cost of the Neville Center’s latest facelifts.

The center’s Fox Theatre marks its 90th birthday on Sunday, when the current Playhouse-North Platte Community College production of “Into the Woods” closes with a 2 p.m. matinee.

Besides the Playhouse, the arts center and the annual Mikey’s Ride motorcycle “poker run” will share this year’s Festival of Trees proceeds, Drullinger and Carlini said.

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