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Historical Society celebrates Ghosts of Christmas Past
new slt christmaspast
Christmas ornaments from the 1930s to the 1990s can be found on this Christmas tree at the Barton County Historical Museum. The historical society will host the Ghosts of Christmas Past open house from 1-4 p.m. Sunday. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Entertainment schedule

1 p.m. – Community singing of carols led by St. Patrick Church Choir. Joe Boley, director.
1:30 – Christmas Brass. Features members from the Barton Community College community band: JB Webster, Marc Webster, Don Regehr, Steve Lueth and Joe Boley.
2 – Great Bend Middle School Flute Ensemble. Kurtis Koch, band director.
2:15 – Central Kansas Piano Teachers League. Piano solos.
2:30 – Vocal solos from Gaunt’s Music Studio. Glenna Gaunt vocal instructor.
3 – Central Kansas Piano Teachers League. Piano solo.
3:30 – Great Bend Middle School, Women in Harmoney. Andrea Gardner choral instructor.

The prototype for the Charlie Brown Christmas tree could have come from the Great Plains. Sometimes the “tree” was little more than a decorated branch, but it wouldn’t do to let the holiday go by unobserved. Like the forlorn tree in the animated classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” some of the trees used by settlers in the nineteenth century were a bit sparse, but the intention was there, says Beverly Komarek, executive director of the Barton County Historical Village and Museum. Barton County Historical Society will celebrate “Ghosts of Christmas Past” with a free open house from 1-4 p.m. this Sunday, Dec. 9. The museum is located just south of the Arkansas River Bridge on U.S. 281 in Great Bend.
There will be refreshments and live entertainment all afternoon, Komarek said. Great Bend Public Library will offer activities for children, and children will also be able to ride on the little train, weather permitting. A model train/Christmas scene by Rich Fox from the Golden Belt Model Railroad Association will also be running. Golden Belt Wood Carvers will be doing demonstrations, and Santa Claus with be there.
Trees are still a big part of Christmas in the Golden Belt, and the museum has many trees on display, including eight that were decorated by local children and organizations. There are also more historic trees.
The feather tree is another candidate for a Charlie Brown tree, Komarek said. “It’s actually made from a wire base, with died goose feathers for branches,” she said. A German custom, the trees were sold here in dime stores in the 1920s and 1930s. The feather tree is the oldest Christmas tree in the museum’s collection.
One of Komarek’s favorites is the Meyer family tree, with ornaments from the 1930s through the 1990s. “Mrs. Meyer decided that she didn’t want to decorate a tree every year, so she just had it hauled downstairs with the ornaments left on,” Komarek said. But she added decorations every year.
In addition to the holiday fare, visitors can take in the regular museum displays chronicling the history of Barton County. Bob Button’s “First People” exhibit of American Indian artifacts is still at the museum, and the project to add informative signs to exhibits has continued all year. The museum also recently acquired a player piano that works, and has a display on loan from the Fort Larned National Historic Site. It depicts a Cheyenne warrior, his wife, and a stolen and captured Army horse, with information on the clothing and other items. “I think it’s really interesting,” Komarek said, adding the display will be at the museum until the new year.
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.