Tag Archives: christmas

Preparing for the holidays, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, Iowa

21 Nov
Holiday decoration begins appearing at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve as it prepares for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Volunteers carry Christmas decorations as the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve prepares for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides enjoying the cooler temperatures and colorful leaves that fall brings, I do enjoy the festive feel when homes and other places begin putting up lights for the holiday season in Siouxland. While not looking forward to cooler temperatures, I like just enjoying the moment, making thinking of childhood memories or other good times that Christmas helps me remember, besides the obvious, that a very special child was born on a very special night. Although I think the jury is still out, and will be, for when that night actually occurred.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve began a tradition last year during the pandemic to entice people to at least come outside, where it is relatively safer from catching the virus and enjoying some holiday cheer. And again this year the park manager, Jody Moats, and her crew of staff and volunteers are once again decorating the Homestead in preparation for the Christmas season.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve park manager Jody Moats attaches Christmas lights to a tree with the help of a volunteer for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve volunteers are putting up lights for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fun to wander about the park and enjoy hearing the giggles and excited talk of little ones attending with their parents in anticipation of Old St. Nick visiting their home, hopefully, during the holiday season. At least for a short time period one might be able to put on hold all the other problems that seem to continually occur and maybe truly wish a happy and merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve volunteers are putting up lights for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve park manager Jody Moats gives directions to a volunteer as they put up lights for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve volunteers are putting up lights for the Homestead Holidays weekends beginning Thursday, Dec. 2 in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The Homestead holidays will span every weekend in December, Thursday through Sunday except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas in Black and White, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

10 Feb
A black and white scene of a Christmas tree created using poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out and about in Siouxland looking at sites or exploring an area, I am torn between photographing something in color or black and white. Most times I end up doing both. Depending on the outcome both can be worth of the choice made. When I previously worked for a newspaper in the black and white film days of Tri-X, some subjects just screamed color. Fireworks, fall leaves, Christmas lights, all give a better representation of that particular subject or event in color. When looking to isolate subjects or objects and making use of a graphic look of light and shadow, black and white is better suited.

Seeing a Christmas tree created using poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A black and white scene of a Christmas tree created using poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An argument can be made for either genre by whomever is doing the photographing. It all depends on what the photographer wants to share with his/her viewer(s). And what, at the time of making the photograph, has the the stronger appeal to the person. Seeing the poinsettia Christmas tree in color is not seeing it in black and white, but seeing the faint shadows and design on the walls in one’s mind’s eye and thinking in black and white opens up other interpretations, no matter what that personal interpretation may be, if other than a graphic presentation of the scene. A right answer or wrong answer, it’s hard to tell. Sometimes things are not so “black and white”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A stairwell ripples of shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Christmas Memory in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE

21 Jan
Childhood memories for some people in remembering putting together model trains with their fathers seen at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas time is a time of joy and a story of birth or new beginning for people. Families share the season and the one day and make memories to last a lifetime if they are lucky. One memory some folk have told me is “building” model train sets with their fathers and running the tracks around the living room making folk a little cautious so they wouldn’t step wrong and end of run over by a slow going locomotive.

The Lauritzen Gardens is a place that seems to like trains. Another exhibit they have on the grounds is a joy in itself to see. And a small train set up in an indoor garden area was a delight to see how it traveled through the area.

Slow motion emphasizes a train passing by a walkway at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A train passes by a walkway at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like the unexpected little surprises one finds when visiting places. And I’m certain the folk their enjoy giving them as they dream up something different each year to make it special and to keep patrons and guests returning.

Christmas time is special, and these little delights add to that memory of another year in which to remember.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A train passes by a walkway at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A trolley car makes its way in a floral exhibit at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Imaginative Christmas Decorations in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha

28 Dec
A Christmas tree made of poinsettias seen at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about it’s easy to find Christmas light decorating on homes that takes one’s imagination to new heights. And with technology it’s easier to sync light strobing and music and it makes for quite the display. But somehow, in my humble mind, that pales in comparison to the tight spent creating a Christmas tree out of different colored poinsettias and placing them to somewhat replicate colored ornaments hanging on a tree. I was simply amazed.

A toy train makes it way around the “Christmas Tree” at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A decorative scene at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Gardens then attended small touches still using plants and adding a toy train one easily associates with the bygone days of such a scene at the base of a tree in a family’s home. The came the “stuffed” animals on the other side of the tree, still surrounded by beds of poinsettias. It was a nice break for this different kind of Christmas season and the effort the people at the Gardens put into creating the display. Affording people a chance to safely get out of the house and enjoy something this holiday season with other various precautions in place. And everyone attending at that time were courteous of others, giving space and wearing masks. A nice day outing amid a chaotic season of sorts.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

“Stuffed” animals guard the “Christmas” tree at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Hundreds or maybe more of poinsettias at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Christmas at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Festive Lights in Siouxland, Bayliss Park, Council Bluffs

14 Dec
Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving around Siouxland is always fun during the Christmas holiday because of the many festive displays of lights that people and communities put up. Some are extensive, some very simple with only a few figures or lamp post decorations.

Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs always seems to have such a nice display with most trees and its fountain lit this opinion informed from photos I have seen of previous years. The park was a nice display, although something was amiss with some lights as they came on, and went, off, with no apparent reason or “timed” response/reaction, as though it might be a planned lighting scheme.

Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But with everything, there are challenges. I am sure city crews are not checking out the park at night unless someone lets them know something is amiss. But it was a thing of beauty to hang out until dark to see the trees aglow, and watch a few planes overhead beginning their descent for a nearby airport, adding their own lights to a festive scene.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Holiday Christmas lights at Bayliss Park in downtown Council Bluffs, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Holly, Jolly Christmas in Siouxland, Adams Homestead, North Sioux City, SD

6 Dec
A snowman greets visitors checking out the lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun has already set as a lighted Christmas display comes on at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas celebrations in Siouxland as elsewhere takes on a different atmosphere this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Normally the Homestead would open its buildings up and upwards of a few thousand folk would pass through to visit and see Santa in the welcome center.

But Ranger Jody Moats this year decided it might be too risky for some folk and so with the help of volunteers strung a lot lights around the grounds allowing people to visit, outdoors and enjoy a Christmas light show.

Park Ranger Jody Moats poses by an angel as she becomes turning on Christmas light displays at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Well, Ranger Moats and the volunteers put up a lot of lights and it makes for a festive walk through which will change once a little snow settles onto the ground casting back some reflective white surfaces for the lights to shine above. The walk will be a destination for people wanting to enjoy the Christmas spirit and a chance to forget about current affairs as they cautiously enjoy the lighted scenes at Adams Homestead.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


The schoolhouse is lit for a Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A lighted Christmas display will greet visitors to the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Understanding History in Siouxland, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, Council Bluffs

14 Jan

The Union Pacific Railraod Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa resides in a former public library, possibly a former Carnegie Library of which many were built around the country in the 19th century seen Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum houses the history of the company as it relates to the community of Council Bluffs, and the railroad company in general. No affiliation to the business, it celebrates the life work of one General Grenville M. Dodge who settled in Council Bluffs and helped build a railroad empire. One of the interesting aspects to me about the museum is the video animated actions of recreating General Dodge and a ticket seller who through interactions with the motion of visitors helps tell the story of the railroad.

Animated characters bring to life history at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animated characters bring to life history at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animated characters bring to life history at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The hand gestures may be slight but bring to life the figure before one at the museum. The figure also goes through head motions, again slight, reinforcing that you are interacting and listening to someone tell a story, this story about General Dodge and how the Union Pacific Railroad came into being. The animated ticket seller also seems a little creepy, but fun as he tries to engage a passerby once the motion detection is set off and the seller awakens.

Animated characters bring to life history at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animated characters bring to life history at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animated characters bring to life history at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having previously visited the museum I found other forms of media now utilized to help tell the history of the railroad which helps make it more entertaining to learn history about the area and community itself as it is growth is entwined with that of the railroad company and the expansion of the westward territories as America grew as a nation and its citizens began having means to visit other parts of the country and explore their nation with the advent of “public” transportation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Media presences helps visitors understand history at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Media presences helps visitors understand history at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (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)

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)

 

%d bloggers like this: