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New animated star will top Salvation Army's Tree of Lights

New animated star will top Salvation Army's Tree of Lights

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This year, a beacon of sorts will tell Omahans when the Salvation Army's Tree of Lights campaign reaches its goal.

The tree at the corner of 90th Street and West Dodge Road will have a new animated star on top, said Susan Eustice, director of public relations for the Salvation Army in Omaha. The star will begin to flash when the campaign hits its magic number.

Omahans won't know that number until Friday, when the goal is announced at the 6p.m. tree-lighting and campaign kickoff on the grounds of American National Bank.

Also new this year will be 200 twinkling strobe lights among the steel tree's 80,000 LED lights. Travis Freeman of Brite Ideas designed the tree, and Ironworkers Local No. 21 set it up and will take it down.

This campaign has a special theme: the 125th anniversary of the Salvation Army in Omaha. That will be reflected in a special illuminated display at the 75-foot-tall tree's base. It's a lot to celebrate, Eustice said.

“Since 1888, we've been delivering programs in much the same way as when we started,” she said. The Salvation Army offers material assistance to low-income families, counseling and disaster aid, and many other services.

Latin band Marcos & Sabor and the Salvation Army Brass Ensemble will perform at the tree-lighting ceremony, which will feature snacks, beverages, Santa and his reindeer, and a visit from Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley's ghost from the Omaha Community Playhouse production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Continuing the anniversary celebration, the Chicago Staff Band of the Salvation Army will give a free concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at Dundee Presbyterian Church, 53rd Street and Underwood Avenue. The band has performed for Queen Elizabeth in Britain.

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