Col. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his wife Louisa loved to entertain for the holidays in their mansion.
Today, their hometown of North Platte keeps the tradition alive with Christmas at the Cody’s. Each year, on the Thursday-Sunday before Christmas Eve, townsfolk gather to decorate each room of the mansion, the outbuildings and grounds and the huge barn that was a staging point for the famed Wild West Show with thousands of lights for the Christmas season.
This year, due to a special request by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the state park where the Cody home is located was closed from September-May, jeopardizing the annual celebration.
But, corporate sponsors have stepped up to adopt many of the rooms for $250 each and hold the celebration with private funds. Contributors include NebraskaLand National Bank, Swan’s Furniture, Gateway Realty, Edward Jones, A Cut Above and US Cellular.
Other rooms have been adopted by individuals and non-profit organizations, including Great Plains Hospice, Signe Assels, the North Platte Community College Rodeo Club, North Platte Opportunity Center and Wish I May.
Not a single space is neglected, according to organizers, from the landing leading to the cupola where mansion staff would watch for visitors coming out from town, to the back porch leading to the storehouse where hot cider, cocoa, Christmas cookies and roasted chestnuts are distributed.
Buffalo Bill will be on hand to welcome visitors into his home, and as a special guest, Santa Claus will hold court for the little ones in the cowboy dining room.
In the front of the house in the piano room, local artists and musicians will provide non-stop entertainment. Outside, horse drawn rides will be available all evening, with carolers singing favorite Christmas carols.
In the barn, a military appreciation tree will stand, decorated by the Maxwell Girl Scouts. Visitors can write their favorite service-member’s name on a paper ornament and hang it on the tree.
Each stall of the barn is decorated by members of the North Platte Kids Klub.
The celebration is from Dec. 19-22, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, with kids 12 and under free.
Military Appreciation night is Dec. 19. All those with valid military IDs are admitted free.
Information courtesy of the Lincoln County-North Platte Visitor's Center.