Mandan News

Custer Christmas is back again

The Custer Christmas holiday tradition returns to Fort Abraham Lincoln after being on hiatus since 2010. The traditional event that started in 1989, is on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Weather permitting, there will be free sleigh rides available at this year's Custer Christmas.

Weather permitting, there will be free sleigh rides available at this year’s Custer Christmas.

On Saturday, the Central Dakota Children’s Choir, “Angelica,” is performing a holiday concert in the Commissary Great Room at 5 p.m.
Under the direction of Teri Fay, the high school women’s choir features 24 singers from seven area schools.

During the day and before the concert a holiday meal will be served for $5, which includes chili, a cookie and a drink.

The Custer House is transformed during Custer Christmas into a historic, Victorian-age celebration.

“The park has a completely different atmosphere during the winter season. Kids can really get to see how the holidays were celebrated over 100 years ago and learn more about modern holiday traditions,” said Matt Schanandore, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park Interpretive Coordinator.

Family traditions are celebrated at the fort with activities such as ornament making, frosting cookies, music, sleigh rides, meet and greet with General Custer, photo booth, and decorating the tumbleweed Christmas tree.

“In the 1870s, evergreens weren’t native to the area, so prairie families would decorate a tumbleweed during the Christmas season instead,” said Schanandore.

General Custer will greet visitors at this year's Custer Christmas.

General Custer will greet visitors at this year’s Custer Christmas.

During the 1800s children and families made ornaments for their Christmas tree. Children and families can join in the decorating fun and help the staff decorate the fort’s tumbleweed, with ornament making stations at the event.

Steve Alexander is one of the foremost Gen. George Armstrong Custer re-enactors and will be at the Custer House greeting guests. Ask him questions and get to know Gen. Custer and historical holiday traditions.

Weather permitting there will be sleigh rides available for the entire family around the Calvary Square. Remember to bundle up for the cold weather.

Another free family activity is the photo booth. Children and adults can dress in old-fashioned clothing and dress up as soldiers or laundresses.

The Commissary Store will be open to the public and has many gift items. Also, the Coffee Shop will serve holiday beverages throughout the event.

Admission to the event is $6 per adult and $4 per student. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department has waived the vehicle entrance fee in honor of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park’s Visitor Appreciation Weekend.

The next event at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is the First Day Walk on New Years Day. Get ready to hike around the park, trudging through the snow and wilderness.

For more information about Custer Christmas and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, visit www.parkrec.nd.gov or call 701-667-6340.

By Katie Jones, editor