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Christmas Cheer in Siouxland Begins, Yankton, SD

3 Dec

Feeling the Yuletide spirit in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s well understood that the Christmas season has already started. Decorations are up and retailers are calling shoppers and customers to come take a look and possibly buy. That horse left the barn many decades ago. While I might have mixed feelings about hawking Christmas gifts so early I do enjoy seeing the decorations and other trappings of the season.

Christmas decorations popping up in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas cheer in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s cheery and nice to let the mind wander to happier thoughts that maybe news of the day or other intruding subjects create a different atmosphere. I must confess, while driving about I have already been listening to Christmas music, mostly instrumental with a New Age flair and jazz renditions of the holiday classics. It’s light, carefree and makes me smile.

Window displays with Christmas tidings in downtown Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Soon Siouxland communities will be having their annual lighted parades and other celebrations marking the holiday and working to get their residents and guests alike into the “mood”, wishing all good cheer and a Merry Christmas.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Christmas wreath decorates the Meridian Bridge, now a walking bridge, in Yankton, South Dakota Friday Nov. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Holiday Season Begins in Siouxland at the O’Connor House, Homer, NE

27 Nov

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The holiday season in Siouxland has begun as a number of small town museums and places have put up their Christmas decorations for visitors to once again stop by and enjoy a bygone era at the O’Connor House in Homer, NE. And nothing says holiday to me than seeing a plate of Gingerbread cookies, even though adults were not allowed, as they were made the children only, not including those young at heart either. An annual event, different people or organizations help sponsor the various decorated rooms of the O’Connor House, home to an early settler of the area.

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A volunteer gives a history of this room decorated for the Christmas season at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers staff the various rooms to give visitors a bit of history of the house and the family that lived there, a sort of controlled chaos as dozens of folk pass through to enjoy the holiday spirit and decorations and revisit or visit for the first time a bit of local history.

Visitors read about the deaths of a number of the O’Connor children at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The family enjoyed many Christmases before the deaths of a number of the O’Connor children as they reached young adulthood. The house still retains a wood stove in the kitchen where the Gingerbread cookies and other goodies are baked. Sometimes damp wood can fill the home with a bit of smoke when the stove is first fired up at the beginning of the day. Not overwhelming, but definitely a reminder of what life might entail in the 19th century.

Still, the home is solidly built by Cornelius O’Connor himself and has a cozy feel even in the 21st century when too many of us take for granted how truly blessed we are with out modern conveniences and the chance to peek into history without actually having to live it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A volunteer reads the history of this particular bedroom decorated for the Christmas season at the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Decorated for the Christmas season, the O’Connor House, built in the 1870’s by Cornelus O’Connor and situated near Homer, NE Sunday Nov. 10, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer’s Passing Time in Siouxland, Okoboji

31 Aug

With September fast approaching and some local schools already back in session, I know I won’t get the chance to revisit the Iowa Lakes Region any time soon. But am hopeful maybe this fall I can when the leaves begin to turn. But seeing blue water on a warm day and boaters enjoying their time out is one thing that will have to wait until next summer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A group of people head out on East Lake for a day of water, sun and relaxation on East Lake in Okoboji, Iowa Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wistful Christmas Memories in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha

6 Mar

Celebrating Christmas in a big way at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Station, in Omaha, NE Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Although spring will officially start soon here in Siouxland, winter still has its grip on the region with air temperatures hovering just above zero and for a few days below zero without any windchill. Which makes me a little wistful for the Christmas holiday season because it was relatively “warm”, all things considered at the moment. It’s hard when cabin fever sets in and one wants to get out and photograph, but that darn cold air somewhat takes the fun out of it.

When visiting the Durham Museum this past December there was a magnificent Christmas tree on display. And looking at a photograph doesn’t quite give it justice, unless of course there are people seen in the photo.

Perspective sometimes gives one pause, like seeing a giant Christmas Tree at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Station, in Omaha, NE Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy the re-enacted scenes in bronze that grace various areas around the what was the grand hall or waiting room at the former Union Station in Omaha, NE. And enjoy it even more when serendipity allows one to capture life imitating art imitating life. Sometimes it’s just good to be lucky.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Feeling at home with a display at the Durham Museum, formerly a Union Station, in Omaha, NE Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Lighted Parade in Siouxland, Le Mars

26 Dec

Santa and Mrs. Claus wave to those attending the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

People bundled up against the cold attending the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Despite the cold people lined the streets to watch the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Lighted Parade that is an annual event in Le Mars was postponed a week because of a snow storm that basically brought the area, and actually most of the country, to a stand still. The storm basically shut down I-29 and many secondary county and state roads. A lot of events were cancelled. However, the parade happened the following week. There was less snow, but the cold and a crisp wind made for a very chilly night as people bundled up to watch those parade floats that participated in the second attempt.

Parade participants grab for more candy to pass out during the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Everyone bundled up for the cold to watch and ride in the Christmas Lighted Parade in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And later there is always the visiting of the Pioneer Christmas Village at the Plymouth County Fairground. A brisk walk and ride for those so inclined to sit behind chilled horses giving “sleigh rides”. And a few watch fires to roast marshmallows and warm hands and feet.

Christmas lights lit up the Pioneer Village Christmas at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An attendant feeds a fire at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds Pioneer Village Christmas in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When thoroughly chilled, I ducked inside a couple of places to view Christmas decorations and to see decorated Christmas trees. But inside where the trees and a few dozens other people kept fogging my camera lens which gave a hazy appearance that was not really the case indoors. But still a delight to see many happy people anticipating the day, and especially kids, whose eyes still grow wide seeing Santa decorations in the Round Barn and also in person, granting those last timed wishes for Christmas morning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A variety Christmas decorations greeted people inside the Round Barn at the Plymouth County Fairground’s Pioneer Village Christmas in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Camera lenses fogged up inside a pavilion where decorated Christmas trees were located for the Pioneer Village Christmas in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

Enjoying a Community Christmas Celebration in Siouxland, Remsen

20 Dec

Most small communities in Siouxland enjoy a collective Christmas celebration before retreating into homes or churches to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. Visiting the small community of Remsen and seeing the fun people have just gives one a little more faith in humanity and people’s shared bonds.

The community of Remsen, Iowa celebrates Christmas a little early, Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The downtown area is decked out with decorations during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Community residents got together in the downtown area to revel in the upcoming holiday celebration with stores open and serving hot drinks and cookies while others stayed outside and snag carols and enjoyed the chill in the air along with a few well positioned watch fires.

Watch fires keep residents warm during a chilly evening as they have a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Local fire department members roast marshmallows for the kids during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Local school children sing carols during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some well-meaning firemen who kept the fires burning were a little too over-enthusiastic in providing roasted marshmallows, trying to mitigate the effect of the fires before handing them off to recipients.

One local fire fighter, center, was having a little too much success roasting marshmallows as he blows out the flaming pair during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And then the moment arrives when the Big Guy, Santa, arrives, the downtown Christmas tree is lit and admirers rush to see the jolly elf.

After santa’s arrival and with the watch fires lit, the community Christmas tree lights up the night during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Santa greets some admirers after being dropped off downtown by the local fire department during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After that it’s a trip to the local museum where St. Nick sits and poses for photos with a never ending supply of fans waiting their turn to ask for special gifts and savor a moment that most every child in Siouxland has probably experienced once, if not more, in their lifetime.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Parents juggle jackets and phone cameras as Santa juggles kids for pictures during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Parents and grandparents and children crowd into the local museum to see Santa during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The local museum was full to capacity as parents and children waited their turn to see the Big Guy in Red during a Christmas community celebration in Remsen, Iowa Monday Dec. 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Art in Siouxland, Art Splash in Sioux City

6 Sep

Each fall around Labor Day the Sioux City Art Center puts on an art celebration in Siouxland known as Art Splash. A juried group of various types of artists from around the region set up booths to display their wares for people to buy. And most people, depending on the weather, come out to enjoy what’s there and some go home happier with newly acquired pieces of art.

Visitors browse the artists’ booths during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Joseph Murray of Jefferson, Iowa sits among his paintings during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The location of the event has changed over the years. Up until 2011 it was held in a park along the Missouri River, when during that year the hundred year flood forced a relocation. Then it was held in Grandview Park, where the hills may have presented a challenge for people to walk up and down to view the artists.

Now in its 25th year, the event is at Riverside Park, nestled among a flat woodland area that later hosts the community’s Riverssance Festival as well. I enjoy going each year just to see what people are doing. At this point in my life I have fewer needs for more things, and the ability to afford art now is prohibitive for me personally. But it doesn’t mean one can’t draw inspiration and enjoy a day out and see what creative people are doing. And the artists are not limited to just visual arts. One artist, Paul Imholte, bills himself as a stringman and plays a variety of instruments.

Artists’ booth sit among a grove of trees during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stringman Paul Imholte performs on a hammer dulcimer during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And different people take away from the event different experiences that may be portraits or time spent with family. Even during those years of inclement weather, people can still enjoy what is offered.

Chun Wang of Shawnee KS works on a sketch of Ben Honomichl of Jefferson, SD during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother and son enjoy a bit of lunch along with a number of their closest friends during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art Splash makes for a nice Labor Day weekend activity both for the artists and area residents who are supporting people who also labor, but in a creative manner adding another oft times needed dimension to life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Sioux CIty Growth Organization decorated their booth with balloons to draw attention to themselves during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two young artists due their best to add to an already colorful pickup truck to make an overcast and rainy 25th anniversary of Art Splash more memorable which was held at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Vvian Miller of Akron, IA talks with a couple interested attendees during the 25th anniversary of Art Splash at Riverside Park in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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