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Celebrating Labor Day in Siouxland, Hawarden

26 Sep

An Iowa Army National Guard Honor Flag unit lead as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Labor Day in Siouxland and the rest of the U.S. is the holiday that basically says summer is over and fall is beginning with everything else to follow. It’s the time to celebrate the working men and women that make an economy thrive. Most small towns celebrate Labor Day in one way or another. Hawarden does so each year with a parade.

A grain elevator anchors one end of down town as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The West Sioux High School football team rides in the parade and is a combination of Hawarden, Ireton and Chatsworth communities that consolidated their school resources. Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the West Sioux High School cheer team rides in the parade and is a combination of Hawarden, Ireton and Chatsworth communities that consolidated their school resources. Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The small town community celebrates its small town atmosphere. A number of floats contain local town folk, young and older. And the streets are lined from downtown out to a city park with food booths and other entertainment. Probably mild by larger city standards, the parade is enjoyed by the community residents and a chance to relax before life becomes more hectic as schools once again are up and running after the summer break and farmers anticipate their fall crop harvest normally started in October and November, depending on the crop growing season.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sioux County Youth Fair royalty, princess KAIE PLENDL, left, queen OLIVIA FEDDERS, center and Little Miss Sioux County BREA LEUSINK, ride a float as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Always a favorite as small town parades the Abu Bekr Shrine Rat Patrol perform precision driving along the parade route as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young boys points out the large tractor and grain wagon as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Mariachi band performs along the parade route as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Graduating class members of 1972 from West Sioux High School participate in the parade as residents and guests line the street to watch the 2022 Big Sioux River Labor Day Parade, Monday, Sept. 5, 2022 in downtown Hawarden, Iowa. The small western Iowa community is home to roughly 2,500 people and while the celebration’s name and homage has morphed over the 60 decades the parade has been in existence, area locals and former residents still return to partake and visit with old friends. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Remembering on Memorial Day in Siouxland, Ireton

30 May

Organized by the American Legion Bertram Post #276 community volunteers assist in putting out flags alongside 197 white crosses that represent all of the veterans buried since WWI to present at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ireton, Iowa Saturday, May 28, 2022, prior to Monday’s Memorial Day service. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Memorial Day in Siouxland is remembered by a large majority of folk. It always seems a bittersweet kind of memory. And with the recent spate of mass murder shootings the remembrance is not going to get any easier.

Originally designed to remember those who had fought during the Civil War, Memorial Day today seems to embrace remembering those who served their country and also for the loved ones who are no longer with us.

Organized by the American Legion Bertram Post #276 community volunteers erected 197 white crosses that represent all of the veterans buried since WWI to present at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ireton, Iowa Saturday, May 28, 2022, prior to Monday’s Memorial Day service. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Organized by the American Legion Bertram Post #276 community volunteers erected 197 white crosses that represent all of the veterans buried since WWI to present at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ireton, Iowa Saturday, May 28, 2022, prior to Monday’s Memorial Day service. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An organizer for the white cross and flag display explained this was something new this year for the community, in most part sponsored by the American Legion Bertram Post #276. The 197 with crosses represent those veterans buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery who served between WWI to the present.

Community volunteers came out early on a Saturday morning to add the flags to the crosses as well as putting up larger flags that would line a drive into the cemetery. And weather permitting, a service will be held Monday morning.

Organized by the American Legion Bertram Post #276 community volunteers erected 197 white crosses that represent all of the veterans buried since WWI to present at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ireton, Iowa Saturday, May 28, 2022, prior to Monday’s Memorial Day service. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Organized by the American Legion Bertram Post #276 community volunteers assist in putting out flags alongside 197 white crosses that represent all of the veterans buried since WWI to present at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ireton, Iowa Saturday, May 28. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

JIM HUENINK places a flag near a white cross prior to Memorial Day. Organized by the American Legion Bertram Post #276 community volunteers assist in putting out flags alongside 197 white crosses that represent all of the veterans buried since WWI to present at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ireton, Iowa Saturday, May 28, 2022, prior to Monday’s Memorial Day service. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ireton is a small northwest Iowa community with a population approaching 600. Memories in small towns are usually taken seriously by community members. Whether it be a remembrance like Memorial Day or when the high school (if there is one these days, and even if there isn’t anymore) won a state championship in whatever sport. All holidays are somehow noted and shared before folk move on to their own sharing with family and friends for that particular day. A time for thought and a silent prayer that maybe life can be better for those who remain.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Members of the Ireton Cadet Club, under the leadership of the Ireton Christian Reformed church, volunteer to place flags alongside 197 white crosses that represent all of the veterans buried since WWI to present, an event organized by the American Legion Bertram Post #276 at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ireton, Iowa Saturday, May 28, 2022, prior to Monday’s Memorial Day service. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Organized by the American Legion Bertram Post #276 community volunteers erected 197 white crosses that represent all of the veterans buried since WWI to present at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Ireton, Iowa Saturday, May 28, 2022, prior to Monday’s Memorial Day service. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Christmas with a Tree, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

29 Dec
Christmas tree at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every Christmas most every home goes out to find a Christmas tree here in Siouxland. It’s not 100% but probably close. I personally sometimes get a tree, and other times not. Over the years even my cats have enjoyed having something “new” in the house they can play with as it suits them. Occasionally at night I will here something rolling about the floor and then scampering. Sometimes I will call out, and other times I just roll over and hope that I will find only one ornament displaced and not broken.

So visiting places like the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE is pleasant, and I can experience a giant of a Christmas tree that sits inside a former Union Station, a hub of activity during the early railroad days and up through the second world war when massive troop deployment cycled through the station. Now it houses a local museum and Christmas every year displays a grand tree. One of these days I would like to make it down for the evening tree lighting when pandemic life returns to some kind of safe environment and normalcy, whatever that may be.

Christmas tree at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas tree at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the museum gets lots of visitors who do the same as I. I couldn’t imagine the amount of pine needles that is cleaned up afterwards. My trees are generally small, but somehow leave behind an inordinate amount of needles to clean up. But a small price to pay to enjoy a special time of year the meanings and joy this symbol gives.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas tree at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas tree at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Counting the Little Birdies in Siouxland, Audubon Christmas Bird Count, Sioux City

27 Dec
Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter member Jerry Probst programs a portable speaker to emit barred owl sounds as he spends the morning participating in the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes one has to have faith that you will find what you seek. Even if you feel you are walking in a dark wilderness and feeling your way, metaphorically speaking. But starting the day before sunrise looking for birds can feel that way. And in the end, one may or may not be successful in the endeavor.

Every Christmas the Audubon Society conducts an annual Christmas bird count where chapters of the Society, like the Loess Hills chapter, throughout the U.S. during a two-week period in December look for whatever species happens to be there and record their findings. These may be birds that are indigenous to the area as well as those migrating to another clime to winter at.

Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter member Jerry Probst places a portable speaker in some brush to emit barred owl sounds as he spends the morning participating in the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

City lights from Sioux City is seen past the dark trees before sunrise as local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Jerry Probst and Warren Dunkle spend the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was difficult photographing this bird count which I previously had done, but then it was later in the day and I actually had light to be able to accomplish the task. But two Audubon Loess Hills chapter members Jerry Probst and Warren Dunkle were looking for owls. At least they were “looking” to hear owls at Stone State Park and had brought along a small portable speaker to start a dialogue with these elusive creatures.

And one never really knows what you might find go bump in the night (dark) or, literally, stumble upon as the pair made their way along one of the roadways in the park.

A woman walking her dog in total darkness called out as she saw the red light the two used to check their footing and avoid fallen limbs that littered the roadway due to recent storm activity that brought some F1 tornado activity throughout Iowa and not that far from Sioux City, damaging buildings and downing trees and limbs.

A woman walks her dog in Stone State Park as local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Jerry Probst and Warren Dunkle spend the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in the park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A woman walks her dog in Stone State Park as local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Jerry Probst and Warren Dunkle spend the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in the park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

She seemed genuinely surprised that other folk were out so early in the morning walking trails in the park, as were Probst and Dunkle. But then not many folk probably venture into the park in total darkness. And try as they may to get whatever owls might be around to respond to the calls made, not a sound could be heard, not even a “Merry Christmas to all and to all a Goodnight” from these furry creatures.

But with the recent weather activity with the recent warming periods and then dip into cold, it seems even these creatures have had to learn to adjust their formerly normal activity that might also include a new normal. But as an annual event, the bird counting folk can always look forward to next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Warren Dunkle, right, moving to stay warm, as he and Jerry Probst and spend the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Jerry Probst said he’s been involved in the Audubon Christmas bird count for over 20 years as he spends the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter member Warren Dunkle says he mostly is a second pair of eyes as he spends the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Merry and Bright in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

25 Dec
Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the holiday seasons I try to visit various places because of the displays that one can see at them and the work that goes into making visitors appreciate and enjoy such displays. I must say I am never disappointed with what I have seen at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE. I can only guess that planning must start one to two years out as to what supplies, plants and other accoutrements are necessary for these delightful visions to take life.

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The indoors gardens this year became a visual light play and can only be really appreciated as the sun sets and the lights seen in a darkened environment. And the fascination someone has with train sets as each year the trains that might be running out of doors at a display do shorter runs indoors the during Christmas season.

And I find it a marvel what is done with plants to create various scenes holiday or not and give visitors a chance to walk through and enjoy a small world away from the white noise that seems to be everywhere these days, if only for an hour or two. A brief respite in time to be a child again.

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes I think the staff of the gardens can not possible out do what was done the year before and then am pleasantly surprised to enjoy a new experience and see how creatively plants can be used.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating with Christmas lighting at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bah, Humbug and Dance in Siouxland, Old Dominion Dance group, Omaha, NE

23 Dec
A mix of ages attend the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun attending various events in and around Siouxland, whether during the holidays or not. To see like-minded folk enjoying themselves and supporting something is always good. The Old Dominion Dance group of Omaha, NE again sponsored a Fezziwg Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens. Attending this year it was nice to see a larger mix of ages, and folk “dressing” for the occasion of an 18th century period.

People dance during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A group circle dance is performed by folk attending the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A dance caller walks people through a particular dance sequence during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having participated in a folk dance group while in college, I always find it fun and enjoyable to see people relive history through some particular form. Most times it is theatre or music, but dance as I learned in college was happening during some very important historical dates and never really gave it much though until a college professor pointed out those facts. History can be illuminating as well as fun.

The dance group always performs a portion of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” involving Ebenezer Scrooge’s fond memory of the Fezziwg dance he attended as a younger man and before life’s intervening circumstances changed his path. The actors for this evening’s portion rehearsed ahead of time although I think after year’s of practice they have their parts down cold. One of these years I will have to stay for the entire evening. But an early morning appointment for bird watching the next day didn’t allow me.

I don’t know if there was any offering of mulled wine but the dance revelers probably didn’t need it to give their spirits a lift. Although, maybe later as the temperature dropped and the prairie breeze picked up.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A gentleman gets makeup as he readies to play the ghost Marley during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A dance caller walks people through a particular dance sequence during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some people dance while others opt out until the next one during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Young people the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Young people the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People enjoy themselves while dancing during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People enjoy themselves while waiting for the next dance to start during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People enjoy themselves while dancing during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People enjoy themselves while dancing during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The “ghost” of Bob Marley watches others dance during the Old Dominion Dance Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating the Christmas Holiday in Siouxland, Sioux City

21 Dec
Folk inspect the decorated Christmas trees at the 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many communities, Sioux City has a number of festivities that celebrates the Christmas holiday and season. One of which is the Festival of Trees, with decorated trees that are then available through a private bidding auction which helps support one chosen charity or organization that particular year. Various organizations and people decorate their tree and they are available for viewing for a week or so until the bidding process ends and people who win can pick up their very own Christmas tree for the holiday.

Folk inspect the decorated Christmas trees at the 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Folk inspect the decorated Christmas trees at the 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But during the first evening while the parade of lights is happening outside, folk who wander into the Ho Chunk Centre are also entertained. A local church bell choir, Grace United Methodist Church, perform a few numbers that is always amazing to hear. All the more I think because the bells always seem to be perfectly tuned. Making me wonder how exactly can bells be tuned.

The 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grace United Methodist Church bellringers performing at the 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grace United Methodist Church bellringers performing at the 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And then to top off the evening, a local dance group performs various numbers or routines to renditions of holiday Christmas songs. Mostly jazzy version that matches the energy of the young dancers. Cute as they are, the younger ones making the best of it while not always hitting the mark or executing their cue. But no one cares. It’s a fun performance for the beginning of the holiday season and gets people into the mood for the season with a reason.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Children set up to perform their dance at the 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Parents record their children performing at the 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Parents record their children performing at the 28th Festival of Trees inside the Ho Chunk Centre in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Capturing Christmas Lights in Siouxland, Sioux City

15 Dec
Christmas lights decorate the front lawn of the Sioux City Public Museum with the Ho Chunk Centre in the background as the sun sets Saturday, Dec. 04, 2021 in downtown Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the holiday season around Christmas it’s always a challenge to capture images of Christmas lights and decorations hoping to show them at their best and not in total darkness. Like taking photographs of people during the golden hour, the same somewhat applies to photographing the holiday decorations. And then one hopes that nature works in your favor and you get a nice sunset to help set off the holiday lights. Being prepared and ready to always good. But in these cases, being lucky isn’t a bad thing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lit Christmas tree stands on the front lawn of the Sioux City Public Museum with the Ho Chunk Centre in the background Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lit Christmas tree stands on the front lawn of the Sioux City Public Museum with the Ho Chunk Centre in the background Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lit Christmas tree stands on the front lawn of the Sioux City Public Museum with the Ho Chunk Centre in the background Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Holiday Lights in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

11 Dec
Christmas lights add a festive feel for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas lights add a festive feel for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the cold winter nights this time of year in Siouxland and other northern realms, the holiday lights that people put up for display adds the festive feel for celebrating the Christmas holiday, both secular and religious. The lights make the dark nights a little cheerier and inviting and allow folk to just enjoy the moment of seeing the displays and forgetting about the ills of the world and the hope that maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

Christmas lights add a festive feel for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas lights add a festive feel for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve began putting up outside lights last year during the pandemic to give people a safe environment to to enjoy the holiday and a reason to visit the preserve. Many times during the year I also visit, taking walks on the trails looking for critters, be it waterfowl, song birds or deer and turkey that inhabit the area.

This year the snow hasn’t visited Siouxland yet, but the first storm is predicted to hit within days, but on this particular night, the prairie wind was making its presence known as strands of lights whipped back and forth during wind gusts. I was just glad there was no stinging white particles hitting my face as I walked about enjoying the scene and trying to photograph the lights. Always challenging and best done when there is still some sky available for balance in an image. Yet even on a cold and blustery night, it was good to get outside and just enjoy the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas lights add a festive feel for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas lights add a festive feel for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A volunteer plays the festive piano selections in the church chapel during the Christmas holiday celebration at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A volunteer plays the festive piano selections in the church chapel during the Christmas holiday celebration at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The house that Mary Adams lived in on the land that eventually became the park is decorated for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Santa heads to a barn, maybe to check on the reindeer, during a Christmas lights celebration at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Santa poses for a photo with a young child during the Christmas celebration at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Santa poses in front of Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most everything is decorated with Christmas lights to add a festive feel for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most everything is decorated with Christmas lights to add a festive feel for Christmas at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Park Manager Jody Moats adjusts a speaker’s volume to add holiday music for those visiting to see the Christmas lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like the Holidays in Siouxland, Sioux City

7 Dec
Two parade attendees show off their “lighted” necklaces at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The “holiday spirit” has begun in the Siouxland region. A number of communities like Sioux City have begun with their lighted parades and other festivities now that Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is only a couple, three weeks away.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A parade princess waves to the crowd at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At night the Christmas lights and decorations light up neighborhoods, a cheery reminder to people about the approaching Christmas holiday, when hopefully more people take to heart the meaning of Christmas and put aside their vitriolic beliefs and really consider loving their neighbor. But I suppose that is a large Christmas ask as political parties and failed politicians continue to push their agendas.

But the chance for a momentary set aside to again think like a child and enjoy the magic of Christmas might give some folk pause to enjoy the present and wish their fellow citizens a Merry Christmas.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The city Christmas tree and other decorations lit on the grounds of the Sioux City Public Museum during the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A local union participates in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flag marches with a drum corp at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A drum line keeps the beat during the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children yell for more candy to be tossed during the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Lighted Parade marching along 4th Street in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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