Tag Archives: holidays

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)

‘Tis the Season in Siouxland, O’Connor House, Homer, NE

30 Nov

With Thanksgiving barely behind us, some local organizations and groups are already in the full swing of celebrating Christmas in Siouxland. But that’s understandable as people are less inclined to attend some celebrations the closer, and sometimes more hectic, it gets to the actual holiday.

The O’Connor House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and each year is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Each individual bedroom in the O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The O’Connor House in Homer, NE hosts two weekends where different groups or organizations each step up and decorate a room in the historical house with a Christmas effect. And the historical home of a first settler is staffed with volunteers to tell visitors about the family and life of the house and on the plains. One volunteer actually grew up in the house as a boy, after the O’Connor’s lived there in the late 1860’s, when his parents rented the place. Duane Harris tells some fascinating tales about the original owner, Cornelius O’Connor and life during the early settler days when the area was shared with the Native Americans who had lived there for generations.

Dakota County Historical County volunteer Duane Harris grew up in the O’Connor House and now tells visitors during a Christmas celebration about some of the home’s history and about the original occupants in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Each room of the home is staffed with people relating stories about that particular space, either something about the family, or related to those possibly in one of the many photographs that dot the home.

Visitors are greeted by Dakota County Historical Society volunteers in each room to share a bit of history about the O’Connor House and its first occupants during aChristmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographs of one of the O’Connor children on display at the O’Connor House during a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course one important room is the kitchen where there are people baking cookies in a wood-fired stove with great success. Gingerbread cookies never tasted so good. And each room looks so homey one feels inclined to just sit, have some hot cider or chocolate and enjoy the ambiance.

Dakota County Historical Society volunteers busy in the kitchen baking cookies and gingerbread men cookies in a wood fired stove during the Christmas celebration at the O’Connor House in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Each of the bedrooms in the O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The O’Connor House is decorated for a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course the one takeaway I enjoyed most was a small sign almost hidden in the pantry near the kitchen. Reassuring people to not feel guilty about the Christmas holiday or enjoying its bounty.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sentiment of many holiday patrons is seen on a shelf near the kitchen at the O’Connor House during a Christmas celebration in Homer, NE Saturday November 3, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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