Central City, Neb., celebrates Lone Tree Days each year during the week that includes the Fourth of July. This year's celebration will kick off on July 2nd with a water volleyball tournament in the new water park. Additional events are scheduled for a full three days of fun, ending on Sunday evening, July 4th, with an Independence Day parade and a spectacular computerized fireworks display courtesy of the local volunteer fire department.
The event is named for the historic lone tree landmark on the 19th Century Mormon/California Trail that passed along the north side of the Platte River. The famous massive cottonwood could be seen for miles and was watched for by all westbound travelers whether they be Mormons, people looking for a place to settle, or 49ers attracted to the California gold rush.
The settlement that sprang up nearby called itself Lone Tree, but this was later replaced by the less romantic name of Central City. Many residents still name their businesses or organizations with the original Lone Tree name.
The annual celebration is filled with activities for all ages. There are walking tours, sidewalk sales, wiener dog races, mud races, quilt shows, art contests and more. The Merrick County Historical Museum perennially sponsors a teddy bear parade for youngsters. It's a popular time for class reunions, and old friends can meet up at the Firemen's Dance in the pavilion by the river.
Plenty of food is available including a barbecue in the park, ice cream and pie socials, and special offerings at local restaurants. The Central City P.E.O. chapter offers a salad luncheon each year, followed by card playing. The famous traveling Waffle Man visits with his 20 waffle irons for a sumptuous breakfast.
Anyone who likes to follow the special Nebraska community celebrations of the summer from town to town will enjoy Lone Tree Days. For additional information about this year's event, contact Kendra Jefferson at the Central City Chamber of Commerce, (308) 946-3897.