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LED lights brighten Durham Museum tradition

November 25, 2019 | Laura King-Homan | community
Durham Museum

(The above photo is courtesy of the Durham Museum Facebook page)

The Christmas tree at the center of the Durham Museum’s Christmas at Union Station celebration shines a bit brighter and safer.

This year, the tree was donated by John and Dianna Flores, who live in the area of 144th and Maple streets. It is the third year the 40-foot Christmas tree features all LED lights, a move that makes the tree safer and more energy efficient, according to Durham officials.

“We are certain it has saved on our energy bill,” said Jessica Brummer, director of Communications for the museum. “And it has helped with the safety of the tree. The old bulbs used to get very hot, but the LED bulbs can be on all day and they don’t even get warm. It’s a huge sigh of relief that they’re safe.”

It takes more than 2,200 feet of lights to make the tree glow. LED lights use 90 percent less energy than standard lights and can last up to 10 times as long.

Nod to the past

Brummer said the tradition of the tree at Union Station dates back to the 1930s, when Union Pacific employees would ship a large tree from the Pacific Northwest and bring it to the station. Once the station closed, the museum continued the tradition with locally donated trees.

U.P. employees still harvest the tree and haul it to the museum on a flatbed truck with a police escort. The crews removed the museum doors, dragged the tree into place and suspended it from the ceiling by a winch system in the attic. Mangleson’s provides traditional ornaments for the tree in different shapes, sizes and colors. It takes a team from Omaha arts and crafts store Mangelsen’s nearly a week to decorate the tree.

This year, the official tree-lighting ceremony will take place Friday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 8 p.m. The tree lighting will occur at 7 p.m. Brummer said the museum sees approximately 50,000 visitors during the holiday event, from tree lighting to Jan. 2.

“This is our favorite time of year,” Brummer said. “We look forward to seeing all the families that come out this time of year. It’s a wonderful tradition.”

The Durham has a number of family-friendly events this year, including:

  • Holiday Concert Series, Nov. 30 through Dec. 22 – Enjoy beautiful holiday music from local entertainers and school musicians.
  • Family Nights with Santa, Tuesdays, Dec. 3, 10 and 17, 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Noon Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For a complete list of events, times and performances, visit the Durham Museum’s website.

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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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