Morning Buzz: 5 things to know for December 19

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1. People often refer to it simply as the Lowell Showboat, and that's the new name it will keep.

City leaders decided back in August that it will no longer be called the Robert E. Lee. The push came after racially charged rallies in Virginia this past summer.

The boat isn't just getting a new name, it's also getting a small makeover. They'll be enclosing the first two floors.

The state will provide a million dollars for the project, and the city also has money from fundraising efforts. Officials hope to have the job done by the end of the summer.


2. A local girl scout troop is learning the true meaning of paying-it-forward, one knot tie at a time. As a Christmas service project, the troop in Otsego made 12 fleece blankets to donate to the Gospel Mission in Kalamazoo.

The troop leaders both work in Kalamazoo, and knew that people who were forced to be outside this season would greatly appreciate the blankets.

The leaders also said that this was a great project for the girls to understand how they're helping others, and that several of the girls said that it felt nice to help people who need it most.


3. For those planning on being in Portage on Christmas Eve, families can go ice skating for free at Millennium Park!

The city announced that there will be free skating and skate rentals on Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.

Officials at the Portage Parks and Rec Department says it's their way of spreading holiday cheer, and showing appreciation for their patrons.

The ice rink is located on Romence Road.


4. Haven't finished holiday shopping yet? Retail experts say stores will offer discounts during the week leading up to Christmas, as customers shift from online shopping to in-store purchases.

Some of the items people can expect to see marked down include jewelry, fragrances, and accessories.

Analysts say these items are typically discounted because they all make easy last-minute gifts.

If people are celebrating Christmas late this year, lots of retailers plan to have sales the day after Christmas on December 26 too.


5. When people show off their holiday memories on Instagram, they'll have tons of new features to choose from.

The photo-sharing app is encouraging users to be creative with new super-zoom features, face filters and stickers. Three new face filters feature a snow frosted glass effect, a holiday make-up look and digital confetti.

Users can also choose from a new set of sounds to pair with the new super-zoom effects.

Instagram's sticker library has also expanded to include a range of holiday stickers paying  homage to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

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