Tag Archives: holidays

‘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©)

Sprucing up for Christmas in Siouxland, Small Towns

22 Dec

I find it fun driving around Siouxland during a holiday season like Christmas and seeing what a community has done to spruce itself up to celebrate. Like in Anthon where a decorated Christmas tree sits in the thoroughfare going through the downtown area.

A Christmas tree sits at the end of downtown and across from City Hall in Anthon, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Different communities do similar and slightly different things for its residents. Almost all communities hang decorations on light poles as others have lights to brighten the overnight.

Holiday decorations light the early evening in Akron, Iowa Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

A Christmas ornament on display in Mapleton, Iowa Tuesday Nov. 28, 2017. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And while not taking an unscientific poll, I would guess most if not all residents approve of the decorations and may even help to celebrate Christmas like a business in the downtown area of Correctionville.

Holiday Christmas decorations in store windows in Correctionville, Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And while the area really hasn’t gotten its first dusting or heavy snowfall yet, one can almost bet that it’s on its way and will just add to the Christmas spirit, until the shovel comes out for a little snow removal.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Anthon

7 Jan

While driving about I enjoy visiting smaller communities during the holidays. Many places “deck” themselves out to some extent as much or sometimes more than larger communities. Anthon, Iowa is one such place. A community of not quite 600 people, it dresses itself up which makes the season all the merrier.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Celebrating Christmas near Siouxland, Plattsmouth, NE

9 Dec

 

A lot of Christmas festivities are beginning. Small communities and organizations seem to celebrate the season early, but am guessing they are trying to avoid bad weather and no one showing up, because of bad weather. I have never been to Plattsmouth, NE previous to this year and upon an earlier visit, saw an advertisement about a Christmas on Main, a Victorian celebration of the season with some people dressing the part. This celebration also happens to fall on Small Business Saturday so it’s a nice event with many of the area downtown stores open later than what seems “normal” and giving a push to people to begin to get happy with the Christmas season fast approaching. In one store, a woman in period dress greeted visitors with a chalk board reminder behind her.

Counting down the days to Christmas, a woman greets visitors to a store during the Victorian Christmas on Main, Saturday Nov. 26, 2016, in Plattmouth, INE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Counting down the days to Christmas, a woman greets visitors to a store during the Victorian Christmas on Main, Saturday Nov. 26, 2016, in Plattmouth, INE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many stores offered hot chocolate and cider along with too numerous cookies to taste or describe. There was also a petting zoo, Christmas lights everywhere, a street band and carolers and then the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree with more carolers and a number of others joining in. The event was a nice throw back to years past, which may not be true for the community of Plattsmouth, but for me it is a reminder of why small towns have their own charm.

It makes for a nice start of the Christmas holiday season to see so many people getting “into the spirit” and enjoying themselves for one night and being a community.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Celebrating Christmas with a Lighted Parade in Siouxland, Le Mars

1 Jan

I made time this year again to visit Le Mars, Iowa, and see its Sertoma Lighted Christmas Parade which is always nice event in Siouxland. It was also nice this year that the temperature was above freezing and while still cold, was not, well, freezing. Many of the same lighted floats were in this year’s parade as last, but coming down the main street through the downtown area they stood out and made the children look on in awe. Kind of like watching fireworks if one listed to the wee ones’ exclamations. And so, another year has passed, but in doing so, repeats the joys of the season and readies one for the coming year and to look forward in anticipation of what photographic possibilities await.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas holiday in Siouxland, Sioux City

24 Nov

The Christmas holiday is beginning in the Siouxland area. Various places are having a celebration before the Jolly Old Elf visits, some even before Thanksgiving. I like the Christmas season. It’s full of joy and wonderful smells (think food) and sites (think decorations) and even, snow. Yes, the white stuff. With warm enough temps and lots of it, it is hard to resist being outside.

I guess what I really enjoy about Christmas, besides the Biblical exaltation and many church programs, is its quaintness. At least what I perceive. The U.S. travel writer/tour guide Rick Steves produced a few years back a video showing various Christmas celebrations in various European cities and countries. The visits were very quaint and I believe the essence of Christmas celebrations.

The City of Sioux City held its lighted Christmas parade recently. And a fairly nice size crowd turned out to see it. Lighted parades can be good or mediocre. If the parade float is well lit and easy to see, it’s a delight and people enjoy it.  But if there are only a few strings of light tossed about an entry it leaves a bit to a person’s imagination. Also, the city did not have some street lamps turned on lighting the street like it usually does. and without the streets lights, yes, it made it easier to see some of the floats that were lit, but for others, it was difficult. It just seemed odd.

For shooting photos, I was pushing my ISO to 3200 and shooting slow shutter speeds and a bit wide open. Sometimes using a little faster shutter speed, and not using flash. I talked with a couple who brought their children and asked them about the parade, and they seemed disappointed. They felt the parade was a little sad and it seemed to take forever. Maybe with too few floats, no one wanted the parade to end too soon and for Santa’s visit to be drawn out.

I have attended other local lighted Christmas parades, such as Le Mars, Iowa, and it seems full of life and alive. Curious how the same holiday can some times be interpreted in different ways.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland celebrates the Christmas season, Le Mars

1 Dec

Over the next few weeks various Siouxland communities and organizations will be celebrating the Christmas holiday. Some with parades, others with events, all marking this year’s Christmas celebration. This week the community of Le Mars, Iowa, will host its annual Le Mars Sertoma Lighted Christmas parade and its Pioneer Village at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds. Its December, and its always chilly, and sometimes downright cold, but the parade celebrates its community and the holiday season, oft times with more than one Santa making an appearance. And the trip to the Pioneer Village is just fun.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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