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Remembering in Siouxland on Memorial Day, Sioux City

25 May

Flags flutter in the breeze at city owned Graceland Park Cemetery Friday, May 22, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. Because of COVID-19 an annual Memorial Day celebration has changed to a drive by Honor Guard to be held at Memorial Park Cemetery. Stormy weather is expected for the area Monday. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Memorial Day is an annual event of remembrance in Siouxland and elsewhere in the U.S. A time to reflect and honor our loved ones and those who have served in the armed forces of this nation. This year’s day like other days going forward will be a new experience for many.

A wife watches her husband clean his parents’ grave site at Memorial Park Cemetery Friday, May 22, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. Because of COVID-19 an annual Memorial Day celebration has changed to a drive by Honor Guard to be held at Memorial Park Cemetery. Stormy weather is expected for the area Monday. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Helping her grandmother, a young woman looks for grave sites of those who served in the military to place a flag at Memorial Park Cemetery Friday, May 22, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. Her grandfather is a member of the American Legion. Because of COVID-19 an annual Memorial Day celebration has changed to a drive by Honor Guard to be held at Memorial Park Cemetery. Stormy weather is expected for the area Monday. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The coronavirus pandemic has given all people a moment of pause. Creating a variety of stress for some and only adding to stress others already felt because of life’s circumstances. And going forward this year’s remembrance may cause people to reflect more deeply as the official start of summer. But maybe I am too optimistic in that respect  that people will actually take stock and be thankful for those who have come before and continue to protect this nation and give it a sense of honor where others who should do not.

Families decorate grave sites of loved ones at Graceland Park Cemetery Friday, May 22, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. Because of COVID-19 an annual Memorial Day celebration has changed to a drive by Honor Guard to be held at Memorial Park Cemetery. Stormy weather is expected for the area Monday. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A grounds keeper trims grave sites at Memorial Park Cemetery Friday, May 22, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. Because of COVID-19 an annual Memorial Day celebration has changed to a drive by Honor Guard to be held at Memorial Park Cemetery. Stormy weather is expected for the area Monday. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And in a year’s time, will folk look back and be thankful for such a pause in routine, or still curse and not think of it at all but for being a disruption they should have done without. Human beings are a fickled lot. While many are thankful, I sometimes wonder if most are just expectant of what they deserve, some more than others. Life’s circumstances have benefited some more than others, sometimes unfairly. But that is for someone else to judge, and sometimes I kind of hope, harshly.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grounds keeper puts up a tent for a Honor Guard at Memorial Park Cemetery Friday, May 22, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. Because of COVID-19 an annual Memorial Day celebration has changed to a drive by Honor Guard to be held at Memorial Park Cemetery. Stormy weather is expected for the area Monday. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Pause in Activities in Siouxland, Grandview Park, Sioux City

17 May

A stormy looking day creates contrast in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The current pandemic, COVID-19 or the coronavirus as some prefer, has caused many people and places to hit the pause button here in Siouxland. For many activities. And like elsewhere, as various political bodies and people decide what time is right for folk to plunge back into “normalcy”, there will be many missing local events. Already high school graduations are being posted online and not held at the various schools with throngs of parents and friends cheering as students cross the finish line, er stage. It seems since May is already here, there will be few Memorial Day celebrations throughout the Siouxland region.

Fans enjoy the performance of The Dirty Heads playing at the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

A couple events I will miss seeing happen in Grandview Park in Sioux City. The Sioux City Municipal Band playing consecutive Sunday evening concerts and the perennial Saturday in the Park music festival. Both are free to those attending. SITP draws people from all over, as big name entertainers perform along with up and comers.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs during the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

 

MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs during the 23rd annual Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, Iowa, July 6, 2013.

The park’s bandshell was built during the depression years by the Civilian Conservation Corps and has hosted many events. On a pleasant summer’s eve it is a nice place to sit and relax, even with a few hundred of your rowdy friends, depending on the program.

A family enjoys the Sioux City Municipal band as it plays a medley of songs at the Bandshell in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday July 5, 2015. (Photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

But keeping one’s distance at these events would be impossible, no almost about it.

The Sioux City Municipal band plays a medley of patriotic songs at the Bandshell in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa, Sunday July 5, 2015. (Photo by Jerry Mennenga©)

And so the park will sit quiet for a few months. No music to enliven its environs or bring smiles and memories to those attending. It’s hard to imagine outdoor or indoor concerts happening any time soon. Outdoor would be safer, but there just isn’t enough space.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A quiet, tempest looking day in Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Snowy Easter in Siouxland, Sioux City

13 Apr

Like in many parts of the U.S., people will always say, “Just wait 5 minutes and the weather will change.” It’s also true in Siouxland. This area of Iowa as probably others in the state and beyond got a snowy, chilly Easter Sunday with which to celebrate. Just some visiting neighbors in a backyard didn’t seem to mind and actually enjoyed their “brunch” while the snow fell, and continued falling throughout much of the day.

An Easter snow doesn’t discourage birds from a morning brunch in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, April 12, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An Easter snow doesn’t discourage birds from a morning brunch in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, April 12, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was convenient to see them enjoying themselves, or at least getting a meal during this untimely weather event. I didn’t see many robins and am guessing they were trying to stay warm and decide what the heck happened to spring.

An Easter snow doesn’t discourage birds from a morning brunch in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, April 12, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An Easter snow doesn’t discourage birds from a morning brunch in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, April 12, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am kind of wondering that myself. And like most, am trying to be patient and looking forward to enjoying a cup of morning coffee outside, without a scarf, jacket or hat and boots. Hopefully sooner than later.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Easter snow doesn’t discourage birds from a morning brunch in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, April 12, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A First Day Hike in Siouxland, Stone State Park, Sioux City

6 Jan

A number of individuals showed up to participate in the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people showed up this year at Stone State Park to hike on New Year’s Day in Siouxland to start their year enjoying nature and the outdoors, as well as a sunny, warmer winter’s day. Roughly a 2-3 mile hike over fairly good terrain the intrepid individuals make their way along a trail selected by a park manager.

Individuals hike down a trail participating in the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Footprints tell the story as a number of individuals participate in a First Day Hike outing at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With milder and warmer temperature than in recent days, the trails made easy walking except for a couple inclines that left a couple people rubbing their backsides dusting off snow after finding their feet touching air for a few moments because of slick surfaces. But it is a nice way to start the year and nice to find like minded folk. Talking to a couple others who hiked some said only 4-5 people participated  in last year’s hike because of minus zero temperatures that kept most folk indoors.

People begin making their way back to the start of the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants enjoy their walk during the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mid point for the hike was a small lake which I always enjoy. It changes its looks every season and it’s a place I have hiked to many times. Both by trail and by a road that ends near it.

Checking out Turtle Lake during the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Hitting the halfway point during the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not one for making resolutions anymore, I do plan to get outdoors more often to local parks and walk. With shot knees my running days are over, but I still like to be outside hearing the birds or crickets or whatever creatures happen by and enjoy nature. And most times it’s not really getting time, but making time to enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One last chat with the park manager after the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Strolling Through the Lights in Siouxland, Pioneer Village in Le Mars

4 Jan

I always enjoy strolling through the Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County fairgrounds during the Christmas holidays. It looks so much different than when seen during the county fair in the summer. Christmas lights and families walking about, even on cold or chilly nights looking at Christmas displays and visiting Santa before the big day.

Christmas lights light up Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Christmas lights light up Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Near the village is a round barn that is set up to display Christmas scenes and gives the chance for children of all ages to enjoy a remembrance from childhood or to make memories that will will carry into adulthood. Even when it is cold it’s hard not to linger and enjoy.

The entrance to the round barn near the Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Christmas villages on display at the Pioneer Village on the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Santa finds his way in the dark in a display at the round barn at the Pioneer Village on the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Near the village is another building with donated decorated Christmas trees where people can enjoy someone’s handiwork in creating such a delight which one can put in a silent auction bid while music plays in the background and local 4-H clubs pass out cookies and hot chocolate or coffee. Sugar rushes are always a nice side benefit to enjoying someone’s decorating attempts and the chance to savor the Christmas holiday for another day or so until next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas trees on display near the Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Christmas trees on display the Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Birth of Christ seen in Siouxland, Nativity Scenes at Plymouth Country Museum, Le Mars

31 Dec

Nativity scene at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Plymouth County Museum in Le Mars always hosts a nativity scene display that shows the breadth and depth of many creative people and cultures when it comes to depicting the birth of Christ. This year’s was no exception although I thought there were fewer nativity scenes on display than in the past years. But still it’s fun to walk through the display and see how the scene is represented.

Nativity scene at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Nativity scene at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Many are donated for the display coming from local residents who collect them on their own travels or received them as gifts from friends and relatives. Note cards next to the display give some background and who is lending that particular scene. And some folk have quite the collection they themselves have acquired over the years.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nativity scene at the Plymouth County Historical Museum in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Seeing the Sparkle in Siouxland, Old Market, Omaha, NE

29 Dec

Christmas lights can be seen shining in the distance in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy seeing Christmas lights shining at night during the winter holiday season finding it makes life a little bit cheerier on those too early dark nights. Even with freezing or below freezing temperatures I force myself out to take a look.

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the Old Market in Omaha, NE the streets are lined with lights on trees, store fronts and even carriages that will take customers meandering through the brick streets and with eyes closed harken back to an earlier era.

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the recent above normal temperatures it was much more enjoyable to get out and stroll, enjoy the lights and dinner without sloshing through slush or snow while doing so. The lights and festive feel in the air will most likely be short-lived, which is sad, because the feeling of joy should last throughout the year giving people hope and faith that the world is a much better place than what so many people try to prove otherwise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas lights in Old Market in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying the Lights of the Season in Siouxland, Le Mars

27 Dec

Santa is watching who is naughty or nice before the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Even though they happen every year, I still enjoy the local Lighted Parades that take place locally in Siouxland, like in Le Mars. Same floats most times, but the joy on children’s faces and their parents seeing their kids get excited is always fun to see. And when the weather cooperates and it’s not below freezing, that’s even better.

An ice cream float by a local ice cream company seen in the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Helpers pass out candy during the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I can remember as a child it seemed Christmas Eve and Day would never arrive. Years away, even though it was only weeks after Thanksgiving. As adulthood looms it seems the time grows shorter to finish that holiday shopping. Now it is just fun to watch others scurrying to finish their pre-Christmas chores and lists and just enjoy the moments that come with the holiday spirit.

The Big Guy is carried in a horse drawn wagon in the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

But even on good weather like days, there can be a delay in festivities, especially when the railroad tracks pass through town and intersect a parade route. There’s no stopping commerce as people patiently wait.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A train passes through the downtown area halting the parade’s progress during the Lighted Parade downtown in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Enjoying Christmas’ Past in Siouxland, Old Dominion Dance, Omaha, NE

25 Dec

It’s always fun to encounter something new and this Christmas season I came upon a group that celebrates Christmas through bringing to life Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Christmas Carol”. The Old Dominion Dance group enjoys the holidays be reliving the past. The group’s founder, Emily Mayes, said the group;s Fezziwig Ball held at Lauritzen Gardens is a chance for people who enjoy dance and a family night out to come participate and dance and participate in a Dickens’ Christmas party.

Young participants socialize before dancing during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Emily Mayes, center, began the Old Dominion Dance group that embraces English country style dancing done during Fezziwig Ball at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The dance group focuses mainly on English country dances and takes some time to teach the simple dance steps (it’s very much like attending an American square dance get-together) and then participate. The group later performs short skits based on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. The ball itself is based on Ebenezer Scrooge’s visit from the Ghost of Christmas’ past. It was fun watching people socialize and participate in an event that celebrates kindness, friendship and the spirit of Christmas. Something one might think is in short supply these days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

People pose for a portrait during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants dance during Old Dominion Dance group’s Fezziwig Ball that encompasses English style country dance at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Christmas time in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

23 Dec

People line the streets for the Lighted Parade in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

A man and a woman roasts marshmallows to make Smores in the downtown area before the start of the Lighted Parade and Christmas tree lighting in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

I like spending time in small communities during holidays. For the most part, people are generally more friendly, and even more so during holidays. Yankton, SD like a lot of Siouxland communities has a Christmas celebration and a Lighted Parade when the town hosts night outs supported by local businesses and residents.

A helper passes out candy to children during the Lighted Parade in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Two young elves watch a float with Frosty the Snowman go by during the Lighted Parade in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Many communities have cut back on some expenses for these celebrations but Yankton seems to be growing its offerings to its residents and visitors. I have many times enjoyed the Meridian Bridge, now a pedestrian crossing over the Missouri River during other times of the year. It gives one nice views and a little exercise to boot. But on this night it was a place to add a little extra piece of the celebration.

Pathway lights change colors during the Christmas holiday at the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

People walk through a lit archway near the Meridian Bridge as they head for the Christmas tree lighting in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Carolers sing prior to the lighting of the Christmas tree near the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

People gathered at the foot of the bridge where Santa greeted and listened to children as a local choir sang carols while all waited for the finale of lighting the city’s Christmas tree and fireworks launched form the bridge. Afterwards people hustled back to where they could find a little warmth, some humming just sung carols and others happy with treats passed out along with hot chocolate and cider while waiting for the tree lighting. A little Christmas cheer as the day inches forward and people can again turn their attention to completing their gift shopping and getting ready for that night of St. Nick stopping by before attending church and spending a little time for the Reason for the Season.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fireworks light the sky after the lighting of the Christmas tree near the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Fireworks light the sky after the lighting of the Christmas tree near the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Fireworks light the sky after the lighting of the Christmas tree near the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

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