Tag Archives: christmas

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)

 

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)

Sharing the Holiday Spirit in Song in Siouxland, Nora, SD

17 Dec

 

I always find it fun when venturing out in Siouxland to revisit places I have been too. Visited often enough, places become very familiar. Sometimes though a place feels at home as soon as you walk through the door. The Nora, SD country store is located at a crossroads in rural South Dakota and owned by Mike Pederson. Listed on the National Register of Historic places, the store was a true country store, closing in 1962. Some items from its previous life are still sitting on shelves.

Resident cats of Mike Pederson check out visitors’ vehicles while everyone is inside the Nora, SD store for 30th annual Christmas carol sing-a-long Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. Pederson began the sing-a-longs in 1989 when he moved and set up the pipe organ in his store. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of a few remaining country stores, which closed in 1962. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A pet cat looks for some attention outside the Nora, SD, store Sunday Dec. 1, 2019 with remnants of a blizzard still remaining on the ground. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pederson has been hosting holiday sing-a-longs at the store since 1989, 30 years. He acquired an organ in the early days, learned to play it and began inviting folk to stop by during the weeks leading up to Christmas Day and to share in Christmas music, both secular and religious to just help folk get into the spirit.

MIKE PEDERSON sits at his organ where he plays Christmas music beginning just after the Thanksgiving holiday up through December 15 at his Nora, SD, Christmas store Sunday Dec. 1, 2019. Marking his 30th year of his annual Nora Store Christmas Carol sing-a-long beginning in 1989 when he set up a pipe organ. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

MIKE PEDERSON, fifth from the left, sits at his German-made organ where he plays Christmas music at his Nora, SD, Christmas store Sunday Dec. 8, 2019 and is joined by visitors sharing in the love of singing Christmas carols. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Christmas decorations hang inside the Nora, SD, store Sunday Dec. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

From hosting so many years he tells some pretty interesting stories of people who have visited. Some by chance and others making a pilgrimage to come back, by themselves or bringing family and friends to enjoy a couple hours of singing and leaving cares at the front door and sharing space and time with strangers who are not really that strange. All enjoy singing, some of us more off key than others, but people don’t seem to care and with so many voices it’s hard to tell anyway.

MIKE PEDERSON puts out more cookies for visitors to his Nora, SD, store Sunday Dec. 8, 2019. Pederson is marking his 30th year for an annual Nora Store Christmas Carol sing-a-long beginning in 1989 when he set up a pipe organ. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

MIKE PEDERSON plays Christmas carols on his German-made organ at his Nora, SD, Christmas store Sunday Dec. 8, 2019 and is joined by visitors sharing in the love of singing Christmas carols. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pederson told folk attending this year that he has been diagnosed with cancer, but so far, has been blessed with good health as he attends to treatment and the medication that goes along with that treatment. His main concern was in asking for some help in keep the store in repair as it needs some work and because of its historical significance to rural America and the fact that these stores are disappearing. Others in the area have been torn down or destroyed by fire. A slice of Americana that can’t be replicated. And I think he also wants to keep alive that spirit of togetherness, sharing with neighbors,  known and unknown, and taking time out to celebrate a time of year that many find special and a place to enjoy it in, bringing back memories for some and creating memories for others too young to have experience that past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

MIKE PEDERSON, third from left, tells a story of visiting Norwegians who stopped by a couple years ago to sit Christmas carols at his Nora, SD store seen Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

MIKE PEDERSON, third from left, sits at his organ where he plays Christmas music at his Nora, SD, Christmas store Sunday Dec. 8, 2019 and is joined by visitors sharing in the love of singing Christmas carols, marking 30 years for his annual Nora Store the sing-a-long which began in 1989. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Quality Time with Santa in Siouxland, Akron

15 Dec

A Santa looks surprised looking over a fence during a community Christmas celebration in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Spending a little time with Old Saint Nick is every child’s hope come this time of year, for those cultures that embrace Christmas that is. Even in Siouxland a child’s expectation can be pretty palpable when the jolly elf appears on the scene.

Santa and Mrs Claus make an entrance for a community Christmas celebration in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Santa lights the town’s tree during a community Christmas celebration in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

In Akron Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in style on a fire truck and then light the town’s Christmas tree, as the little waifs follow along behind waiting for a chance to speak to the man that they hope will provide something of wonder under their own Christmas tree.

Mrs. Claus talks with some young elves prior to them seeing Santa during a community Christmas celebration in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A parents enjoy the few moments Santa spends with their child, making a few snapshots to memorialize this year’s moment and also show life’s progression as their children grow. Maybe becoming a little wiser about Santa but never losing that Christmas spirit. Although for some children, the jolly elf takes a bit of getting use to.

A mom takes a photograph of her daughter talking with Santa during a meet and greet at a community Christmas celebration in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Santa Claus feels a little empathy for a youngster not sharing in the Christmas spirit during a photo session at the town library during a community Christmas celebration in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Area businesses also provide snacks and hot chocolate to residents and visitors alike as well as providing some musical entertainment. I never tire of the holiday itself. The commercialization, yes, but not the spirit of the holiday and the hope of a new and beginning in a not to distant new year. People tend to be a little more forgiving and generous this time of year which gives hope for next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Carolers sing outside in the downtown area during a community Christmas celebration in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

A Christmas tree made of lights in a window of a downtown business for Christmas in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

 

Dressed for holiday, downtown is lit with Christmas tree decorations for a community Christmas celebration in Akron, Iowa Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The community has a little over 1,400 residents. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

The Festival of Trees in Siouxland, Sioux City

13 Dec

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The holiday season in Siouxland and other places provide a time to take stock of one’s place in life and current events and give some thanks for a good year and any kinds of blessings that occur. Most communities have various fund raisers taking place for various reasons throughout the year. During the Christmas holiday season organizations ask folk to decorate trees which are then auctioned and the proceeds go to one or more deserving, although all are, organizations locally which benefit from people bidding and those folk get a nicely decorated tree to see them through the holiday.

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Locally one such event occurs after a Lighted Parade and people can then go inside, warm up and see the creative decorations individuals and groups have used in decorating a tree. All the while a local dance company’s young “stars” perform and it makes a delightful evening of sharing and hopefully getting people into that Christmas spirit and again, giving one pause and a time to reflect and be grateful for all favors, large and small.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Lighted Parade in Siouxland, Sioux City

7 Dec

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Christmas holiday festivities have begun with many Siouxland communities. Lighted Parades, decorations and a feeling of Christmas cheer. While Christmas certainly is a commercial venture anymore, it’s pleasant to enjoy festivities as they are, coming together to celebrate a time of year for a promise that exceeds all worldly cares and dreams and a chance to once again be a child oneself. And to see children excited with anticipation and maybe a hope for a better time ahead.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a the Sioux City Lighted Parade and events in Ho Chunk Center Monday evening, in downtown Sioux City, IowaNov. 25, 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©)

Ho Ho Ho Siouxland, It’s almost Christmas, and Winter in Already Here, Clay County Fair

9 Nov

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Well, Christmas is more than a month away, with Halloween barely behind us and Thanksgiving meals not yet begun cooking in the oven. But winter is definitely here. Unseasonable temperatures in the 20 and 30’s. Weather folk saying the Siouxland area is 20 degrees below a “normal” fall day for this time of year.

A model train display at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At the Clay County Fair in Spencer there is a large model train exhibit with working tracks. Various scenes and seasons are depicted within the display and they are set within different types of communities.

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One exhibit I enjoy the most is the Christmas season display at the fair. Lights twinkling, a Santa whose sleigh glides over a small town bringing gifts, all seen at a county fair where some days the temperatures are in the 80’s along with the humidity and the pleasant thought of changing seasons yet to come. But somehow those season didn’t materialize this year as winter stretched into a very short spring, then summer and soaring temps appeared and now it seems that fall was a brief one-week period with temperatures overnight next week to dip into the teens. Snow has already dusted the area around Siouxland. Nothing like the heavy storms out west in the mountain regions, but still, a fleeting fall passed in the blink of an eye this year.

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like the Christmas season and the music that always seems to get short shrift being played on the radio. Most times people are a bit kinder but no less harried as they prepare for the holidays, gift shopping, plans to visit relatives and putting up decorations. As well as taking some time to think about what Christmas should mean and taking a break to just enjoy the moment and holiday cheer and friends. But with winter already here, it may seem like a very long season this year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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