Ed Kubicki is good at keeping secrets.
Ed Kubicki holds one of the wreaths that will be available at this year’s Gallery of Trees at Kemper Center.
On a “sneak peek” tour Tuesday of this year’s Gallery of Trees at Kemper Center, he walked among the trees — in various stages of decoration — but kept prying eyes (that would be me) away from Tom Preston’s second-floor creation.
A space-themed tree reflects NASA’s current moon mission.
“The big news this year is that Tom Preston is back after skipping last year’s event,” said Kubicki, Kemper’s executive director. “It’s a big, beautiful installation and took quite a team to put together.”
Snowmen are the theme of one of the Gallery of Trees creations.
The theme is a closely guarded secret, which will be revealed to the public Saturday night during the Opening Gala.
This year’s Gallery of Trees features decorated trees, along with 11 wreaths, two centerpieces and two mantelpieces.
The event takes place on two floors (with elevator access), and consists of displays in Kemper’s Founder’s Hall and upstairs near the Chemistry Lab area.
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The trees this year “are so elegant and very well done,” said Pat Mott, chairwoman of the Kemper Center Board of Directors.
In addition to the top-secret Preston creation, the trees include a silver “ice” tree with snowflakes, an outer space tree (just as we’re sending rockets to the moon again), a winter woodland tree, a snowman tree, a gnome tree and a schools day tree.
“We’re hoping for good weather Saturday and a good turnout for the gala,” Kubicki said. “I can’t wait for it to open.”
The Gallery of Trees Gala Opening is 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday. Having the event on two floors “allows us to spread out the crowd,” Kubicki said. “Also, during the gala, the Durkee Mansion will be open for a ‘sneak peek’ of its holiday decorations. The Durkee is right next to the conference center, so it’s all connected.”
The gala features hors d’oeuvres and desserts and a cash bar on both floors. Admission is $30. Gala tickets are available on the Kemper Center website, by calling 262-925-8040 or at the door.
After Saturday’s Gala Opening, the Gallery of Trees is open — with free admission — through Dec. 4.
“So even if you miss the gala, it doesn’t mean you’ll miss the whole event,” Kubicki said.
Trees and other items are raffled off, and those raffle sales continue through Dec. 4.
As much as he values Christmas at Kemper for its festive atmosphere, Kubicki also said the celebration “is a very important fundraiser for us. And we are very grateful for all of our staff, volunteers and our donors.”
For more about the Gallery of Trees, see today’s Get Out & About entertainment section.
The Wisconsin weather gods have spoken: It’s time to head outside and string up some lights.
Mild temperatures are forecast through the weekend (though rain is very likely on Sunday), meaning you don’t have the excuse of avoiding frostbite when your family members ask you why the inflatable Olaf character is still in the garage.
If favorable outdoor decorating weather isn’t enough to tear you away from the Ohio State vs. Michigan game (11 a.m. Saturday on Fox), maybe the prospect of neighborhood bragging rights will do the trick. That is, if you live in Pleasant Prairie.
After its successful Halloween Lights Tour Contest, the folks at Visit Pleasant Prairie are back with a Christmas lights contest.
But first, they need some nominations.
It’s easy to enter: Just log on at visitpleasantprairie.com/things-to-do/holiday-lights-tour/ and submit a photo of your home’s outdoor holiday decorations. The deadline is Dec. 10. Judges will select some of the nominated homes for the Christmas Holiday Lights Tour Map and Contest.
And there’s a bonus just for entering: Every submission will be entered into a prize drawing, and five people will win a prize package “as a ‘thank you’ for sharing the excitement of the holiday season in Pleasant Prairie,” said Sarah Howard, executive director of Visit Pleasant Prairie.
Howard was thrilled with the response to the Halloween contest, which featured 20 homes and attracted close to 600 votes.
George and Debbie Stoeber won first place with their “Hocus Pocus”-themed home, winning a $100 Iguana Wana gift card. There was a tie for second place, awarded to Abby Bloxdorf and Jeremiah Lunde with a $75 Milwaukee Burger Company gift card for her home’s “foggy display of creepiness,” and Jeff and Samantha Duczak with a $75 El Camino Kitchen gift card for “their skeleton collection set in a graveyard display.”
Third place went to Gregg and Stacey Althoff “for their impressive light display that synced to music,” Howard said. They won a $50 El Camino Kitchen gift card.
More importantly, however, all the winners received the highly coveted pumpkin trophy and some Visit Pleasant Prairie swag.
And let’s not forget the neighborhood bragging rights.
“For our first time doing this, we are amazed by the response,” Howard said of the Halloween lights contest.
She’s hoping for even bigger and better — and brighter — entries for the Christmas edition.
After the homes are selected for the contest, people can take the lights tour and vote from Dec. 12 through 26.
While those of us who live in the city of Kenosha can enjoy the lights tour, we can’t enter the contest. Only Pleasant Prairie homes are eligible, and only one entry is permitted per property. But this would be fun to do in the city, too … hint, hint.