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Online shoppers boost small business sales

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Shoppers, many of them using smartphones, spent $3.6 billion buying online from small businesses on Saturday.

Adobe Analytics, which tracks online sales, says that’s up 18% from a year earlier. Adobe reports that holiday season sales are on track to grow 14.9% from 2018. Small businesses garnered $68.2 billion in online sales from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30.

More people are shopping on their phones. Adobe said Sunday that smartphone revenue made up 41.2% of all e-commerce revenue on Saturday. That is up 22% from a year ago.

Saturday’s top-selling products included toys from Disney’s “Frozen 2,” “Madden 20” and “FIFA 20” video games, Amazon’s Fire TV and Apple AirPods.

Looking ahead to Cyber Monday, Adobe expects a record $9.4 billion in online retail sales, up 19% from last year.

Low brass friends come up higher at Geneva holiday concert

GENEVA — Residents of Geneva and the surrounding area were treated to a unique concert experience Sunday evening at the Geneva Veterans of Foreign Wars Club: A TubaChristmas event.

TubaChristmas is a musical concert that takes place in cities and towns worldwide to celebrate those who play, teach and compose music for instruments in the tuba family — including the tuba, sousaphone, baritone and euphonium. Young and old musicians come together and learn from each other. Sometimes two or three generations of family members come together, play and make memories. Group size can vary from a quartet to several hundred players.

While instruments in the tuba family typically are known for what they add to the “background” of a musical performance, in TubaChristmas events they furnish the melody and are the stars of the show, doing things they don’t normally do. It’s a unique sound most people don’t ever get to hear.

Sunday’s event, along with a soup supper, was a fundraiser for the Geneva Rotary Club’s Geneva Bandstand Venue Project to renovate and restructure the city park’s bandstand, an important resource for the community.

Harold Janda, Rotary chairman of the Bandstand Venue Committee, said he thought it would be good to host a TubaChristmas event for several reasons. He helped organize a similar concert 20 years ago. Also, his son had played the euphonium in high school and had performed at the Nebraska State Capitol rotunda. Janda had other memories dating back to 1974.

“I remember watching the first TubaChristmas on TV in 1974 held at the Rockefeller Center,” Janda said. “Harry Smith of the CBS News played one of the instruments, and it stayed in my brain.”

Fourteen band members performed in Sunday’s concert. Some of the towns represented were Shickley, Milligan, Wilber, Lincoln, Geneva, Clarkson, Ohiowa, Milford and Sutton. Director of the event was Ben Kaye-Skinner, band director at Fillmore Central Public Schools. Traditional Christmas carols were played with audience participation the second time through.

Music for the event was arranged by Alec Wilder and Norlan Bewley.

Prizes were awarded to the band members. They included:

  • Youngest Band Member: Brock Godown, 17, of Geneva
  • Oldest Band Member: Maurice Costello, 93, of Ohiowa
  • Best Decorated Instrument: Carol Brady of Sutton
  • Traveling the Farthest Distance: Andrew Votipka, who came from Manhattan, Kansas, a distance of 140 miles

Votipka, a former Geneva resident, said he was happy to be a part of the event.

“I was in the area for some early holiday fun, heard of this and wanted to come and participate,” Votipka said. “I’ve been playing the tuba for 16 years — ever since fifth grade. My nickname back then was ‘Tippy,’ so I decided on the name ‘Tippy the Tooba’ (which is inscribed on his instrument).”

This year is the 46th anniversary for TubaChristmas concerts and events, which are presented throughout the world.

Harvey G. Phillips organized the first TubaChristmas to honor his tuba teacher, William Bell, who was born on Christmas Day in 1902. The event was held Dec. 22, 1974, in New York City’s Rockefeller Center.

Over 300 musicians performed in that first event, beginning a holiday tradition. Paul Lavelle conducted. Arrangements of the carols were written by Alec Wilder.

Janda said Sunday was an evening to remember.

“We had delightful players and a great audience,” he said. “Everyone said they had a good time.”

Deadly storm moves cross country taking aim at Northeast

NEW YORK — Hundreds of flights were canceled and thousands delayed for travelers heading home after the Thanksgiving holiday as a deadly winter storm moved to the Northeast on Sunday, packing one last punch of snow and ice.

The National Weather Service predicted more than a foot of snow in swaths of upstate New York and New England, as well as ice accumulations in parts of Pennsylvania.

“We’ve got our shovels ready. We’ve got the snowblower ready. We’re prepared,” said Paul Newman of Wethersfield, Connecticut.

In New York, numerous schools announced closings and Gov. Andrew Cuomo advised non-essential state employees to stay home as the storm was forecast to bring snow, sleet, wind and rain through the day Monday.

Elias Funez/AP  

In this Nov. 26 photo, the last of fall’s leaves cling to the trees as snow gathers in Glenbrook Basin in Grass Valley, Calif.

State police had responded to more than 550 storm-related crashes across New York by 7 p.m. Sunday and Cuomo placed National Guard personnel on standby. Icy roads caused numerous crashes on Interstate 84 in Pennsylvania on Sunday and a section of Interstate 81 north of Binghamton was closed because of icy conditions for a while.

The same storm has been pummeling the U.S. for days as it moved cross country, dumping heavy snow from parts of California to the northern Midwest and inundating other areas with rain.

It has been blamed for several deaths.

The bodies of a boy and a girl, both 5, were found in central Arizona after their vehicle was swept away Friday while crossing a swollen creek.

Two adults and four other children were rescued by helicopter, but a 6-year-old girl is still missing. Rescuers are combing the area of Tonto Basin, about 50 miles northeast of Phoenix, with helicopters, drones, boats and dogs.

“We want to bring her home safely to her family,” said Lt. Virgil Dodd of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office. “She needs to come home today, and we’re going to do that.”

Two boys, ages 5 and 8, died Saturday near Patton, Missouri, when the vehicle they were riding in was swept off flooded roads.

A 48-year-old man died in a separate incident near Sedgewickville, Missouri, and a storm-related death was reported in South Dakota.

Elias Funez 

In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, photo, motorists navigate the slushy roadways during the evening's snow in downtown Grass Valley, Calif. Forecasters said a new storm is expected to bring California several feet of mountain snow, rain and gusty winds through the weekend.

Also in South Dakota, a small-engine plane carrying 12 people crashed shortly after takeoff Saturday afternoon, killing nine people and injuring three others. Federal aviation investigators are looking into whether snowy weather was a factor.

Major highways reopened Sunday in Wyoming and Colorado, a day after blizzard conditions clogged roads with snow drifts.

Elias Funez 

In tis Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, photo, the Nevada Club sign looks a little frosty in the evening as snow falls to as low as 1,500 feet in elevation in Grass Valley, Calif. Forecasters said a new storm is expected to bring California several feet of mountain snow, rain and gusty winds through the weekend.

Road crews were able to reopen all of Interstate 25 and most of I-80 in Wyoming early Sunday after strong winds abated. Major interstates in Colorado were also reopened.

Still, authorities warned travelers to remain alert for slick conditions and blowing snow.

The city of Duluth, Minnesota, was blanketed with 21.7 inches of snow as of 12 p.m. Sunday. City officials said streets were impassible and residents should stay inside.

Farther south, precipitation was in the form of rain and thunderstorms.

As the storm shifted east, flight delays and cancellations continued to pile up. As of 7:30 p.m., there were more than 800 Sunday flights cancelled in the U.S., compared with about 400 on Saturday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. Nearly 6,000 U.S. flights were delayed.

Airports with the most canceled flights included San Francisco International Airport with 78 and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey with 60, according to FlightAware. Wind and rain caused some arriving flights at San Francisco to be delayed an average of 4.5 hours.

There were also dozens of flight delays in Chicago and Minneapolis.

Elias Funez 

In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, photo, the Glenbrook Basin is blanketed in snow in the evening in Grass Valley, Calif. Forecasters said a new storm is expected to bring California several feet of mountain snow, rain and gusty winds through the weekend.

In Denver, 100 flights were canceled Saturday because of high winds.

In the mountain communities northeast of Los Angeles, nearly 9,000 utility customers were without power because of the storm.

Another storm system developed in the mid-Atlantic Sunday and forecasters said it would move into a nor’easter through Monday.

Some start season by finding the perfect tree

Wandering through the snow among rows of evergreen conifers, the Walston children searched for the perfect Christmas tree to start the season.

Siblings Addie, 11, Thatcher, 8, and Elias, 3, wanted a tree that was not too tall but not too small. A full tree without holes through the middle.

“The kids are always on the hunt for the best tree,” said their mother, Jessica.

They found one just the right fit during a visit Saturday to the Pine Patch Tree Farm in Hastings, where Eric and Jessica Walston of Hastings have brought the family to find a Christmas tree every year since 2007.

“We like coming here because it has a nice family feel,” Jessica said.

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Along with Christmas trees, the Pine Patch Tree Farm in Hastings also sell wreaths.

During the annual outing, the family took a picture hiding among the evergreens to be posted on Facebook for relatives to try to find each of the children.

For Addie, that is the best part of coming out every year.

Jessica said that while she was growing up, her family would make a trip to find a tree for the holiday season.

“It was a family tradition for my family,” she said. “I’ve tried to bring that to my children, as well.”

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

Nine-year-old Chloe Consbruck of Giltner picks a Christmas tree at the Pine Patch Tree Farm in Hastings while shopping with her family Saturday.

Sara Thompson of Lawrence brings her children, Kaden, Konnor and Kole, every year to pick out a tree for the season. She said it’s a way to make memories with her own children, similar to those in her own childhood.

“I grew up with it,” Thompson said. “Mom wanted to always have a real tree. She’s not here anymore, so this is a way to honor her memory.”

Cris and Lori Brechbill of Doniphan have made a family outing of finding a Christmas tree for more than 20 years. Even with a son grown and moved out of the house, they get together to find a tree following Thanksgiving.

“It’s a mess and a pain, but it’s worth it,” Cris said.

Lori said she loves the smell of the fresh tree and can’t imagine a Christmas without the scent.

“It’s tradition,” she said.

Kevin and Janice Dart of Hastings have been coming to buy live trees for around 20 years.

“It’s been a family tradition with the kids since they were small,” Janice said.

Their daughter, Daria, said she particularly enjoyed watching the trees be cut down when she was younger. Now, the outing is more about the start of the holiday season.

“We take it home and get to decorate the entire house,” she said. “It just smells like Christmas.”

For Tim and Jody Jacobi of Hastings, the scent makes all the hassle worth it, even without children living at home any longer. The tree helps them get into the holiday spirit.

“You just crank on the Mannheim Steamroller and decorate it,” Tim said.

Dave Glass said he grows Canaan fir and Scotch pine at his farm, but still has to order extra trees — Fraser fir and Douglas fir — every year to keep up with demand. They typically sell out every year. The Pine Patch also has garlands and wreaths available.

Glass said it takes about seven to nine years to grow a tree to the size customers prefer. Through the year, the trees are carefully pruned to help them grow into well-shaped trees for holiday use. He said people can come out early to choose a tree, but most people come out in the weeks following Thanksgiving

“Usually the three days after Thanksgiving are the best,” he said. “If you want it to last till Christmas, you can’t get it too soon.”

lbeahm / Laura Beahm/Tribune  

The Pine Patch Tree Farm employees (from left) Wyatt Heikkinen, Joe Kindig, owner Dave Glass and Lane Heikkinen wrap a large tree in netting after it was sold Saturday.

To best preserve the tree through the holiday season, he offers buyers tips.

One of the most important is getting a freshly cut tree into water so it will stay green longer. Most trees will take about a gallon of water a day through the season.

For trees shipped to the farm, Glass or his crew cut off an inch off the bottom so the tree will start to take on water again.

Before sending a tree home with a customer, Glass said, they shake out the old needles using a shaker and offer to wrap the tree in a net to make it easier to move into the house.

Some prefer a full tree while others go for a scrawny sapling like the one seen in the Charlie Brown Christmas movie.

“I’ve noticed over the years, there’s a tree for just about everybody,” Glass said.