Bruce the Spruce and Christmas Past, Present and Future

We strolled through Christmas past, present and future yesterday on a post-Packer game trip to see Bruce the Spruce and the Green Bay Botanical Garden.

Do you remember Bruce the Spruce? I do. For me he is the ghost of Christmas past, a large, somewhat terrifying tree that stood at the entrance of the children’s floor at Prange’s Department store and carried on actual conversations with kids braver than I.

Seeing Bruce the Spruce brought back all kinds of memories of Christmas in Appleton back in the ’70s when the Gimbels Department Store anchored one end of the Avenue of Angels, Pranges anchored the other with Kresge’s five and dime in the middle.

My sister Kathy and I enjoyed reminiscing about those days when a kid could hop a bus with her friends and head downtown to shop and eat french fries at the drugstore counter.

We left the Neville nostalgia and headed west to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens and, let me tell you, Christmas future did not disappoint.

You can choose to view the lights via horse-drawn carriage or on your own two feet but we were already deep into our maiden hike through the garden of lights before we even realized we had that option.

Walking was better for us anyway because we like to move at a pretty good clip and one of us has an annoying habit of stopping randomly to take photos.

Still, we loved our quick visit and we highly recommend either the walk or the carriage ride. Hot chocolate and a cool bon fire await both trekkers and riders.

If you do plan to go to the Green Bay Botanical Garden to see their glorious light show, we have a tip for you. Go early. They open the doors before the advertised 5 p.m. start, so if you arrive a little early you can score a spot in the main lot and get to the exhibit ahead of the crowds. You can also save time by purchasing your tickets ahead of time online.

Our spontaneous trip through Christmas past and future made us even more excited to celebrate Christmas present.

This is the Green Bay Bruce the Spruce, on display at the Neville. That tree would talk to you back in the day, which was both magical and terrifying. These days, he still talks, but only during certain hours. He was napping when we stopped by.
They didn’t want me to take their picture inside the museum, so I tricked my mom and my sister Kathy into joining my Heritage Trail selfie.
Then, we headed to the Green Bay Botanical Garden. This is a kind of cool shot of my mom walking through one of the lit arbors.
I saw this garden in the summer and I loved the LED light representation. Note the rabbit, the scarecrow, the radishes and the sun flowers. (For some reason radishes always remind me of Shelly DuVall and the “Hello I’m Shelly DuVall” bedtime stores. Anyone else?)
The vegetable garden was one of my favorite exhibits.
This is what also happens if you arrive early — you get to see the sun setting as you walk through all those glorious Christmas tree. Pretty cool stuff!
I liked to juxtaposition of the LED light display at Mother Nature’s own show.
You can walk through a cool caterpillar…
…and see a Christmas bell swing.
Such a cool lily pond!
You can see this giant Christmas tree from all over the gardens, and you pass it on the last stretch.
The loop takes you past these pretty trees twice.
This is a shot of both the outside and inside displays as you exit the gardens. A giant Christmas train makes its way around a track inside, while a big Christmas tree and a lit Merry Christmas sign greets visitors outside.



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