Lake Park prepares for cozy Christmas celebration
Several Christmas staples are set to return to the Lake Park Community Center Sunday, Dec. 9, along with a few new wrinkles.
The public is invited to drop by and support some local causes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Several events will share the space, including the Lake Park Fireman's Lunch, Federated Woman's Club Bake Sale, Lake Park Historical Society Silent Auction and a wreath/centerpiece display contest.
Event organizer Jane Heikens said the public support helps each group give back to the local community.
"We're all volunteer organizations," Heikens said. "That's our income — our ability to function."
Heikens, who is involved in several of the organizations, said both the historical society and women's club provide scholarships, while the fireman often use the lunch to fund equipment purchases. The historical society also uses the public support to maintain Heritage Square Museum. The group hoped to fund the installment of a railing around the museum. The fundraiser did pay for a handrail at the museum's entrance.
"It's stainless steel, so it's going to be a lasting one," Heikens said.
Outside, the museum recently gained a pair of benches which encircle the nearby trees. Heikens said a local carpenter, a teacher and several FFA students helped create the resting spot.
"They are helping a lot with enhancing Heritage Square as a community service project," she said.
The decorated tree contest has been replaced with a wreath/centerpiece display contest — the community center's reservation schedule didn't allow for entrants to set up Christmas trees before the competition, so it was downsized for the tighter schedule. She hopes the festively competitive enthusiasm among the community will shine through nonetheless.
"Hopefully it will be a pretty affair," Heikens said.
That said, she expects this year's small-scale decorating contest will be only temporary.
"Next year, I hope we're going to have the trees again," Heikens said. "That was really good with all the organizations and youth groups. They just had a lot of beautiful trees that they decorated."
The annual Tour of Homes will take place from 1-3 p.m., and Heikens said four homes will make up the route this year. Tickets may be purchased for $5 per person.
"They will pick their tickets up at the community building," Heikens said, adding the tourists will hopefully be filling up on the fireman's lunch.
Even after the Sunday fun passes, the Lake Park community will still be aglow with holiday cheer. The annual Christmas Lighting Contest will take place between 6-8 p.m. Dec. 15 — at least that's when the judges will be rating the displays. Heikens estimated the tradition is in at least its eighth year.
"We want to make Lake Park alive with lights," Heikens said. "That's kind of what I presented to the council in the beginning."
She said the fun caught on quickly.
"People were joining in and lighting a lot more with their homes' outside lighting," Heikens said. "It's been fun to see, and I hope this year will be too."
The lighting competition is sponsored by the historical society and Lake Park Municipal Utilities. A total of $500 is up for grabs between the residential and business categories — $125 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third in each. Judging will be based on color, theme and creativity. Heikens said she's seen a variety of illuminated designs from biblical scenes to cartoon characters and classic Christmas stories.
"A lot of times they work with not only the lighting around their house but the trees surrounding their house," Heikens said.
Anyone wanting to show off their inner-Griswold must submit their name, address and phone number to the Lake Park Municipal Utility office by Dec. 10 to be considered for the contest.
Downtown Spirit Lake to become Santa's Village
Just shy of 20 sites in Spirit Lake's downtown will help make the yuletide bright for the area. The Spirit Lake Chamber of Commerce is checking the list twice as Santa's Village approaches. Various festivities are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday Dec. 8 in the downtown area.
K-OS Computer and Game will be the first to brush the snow off their welcome mat. Holiday tattoos will be offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Down the block, Evans Clothing will open its doors from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for an open house and free Christmas goodies.
Come 10 a.m., a flurry of activity will burst forth.
The Spirit Lake Schools Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble will belt out the first notes of the Music on the Balcony feature at 10 a.m. Several performances have been lined up to play at the corner of Lake Street and Hill Avenue. When the hour strikes 11, the Spirit Lake Choral Students will take over for the brass ensemble outdoors. But the tubas and euphoniums will return at noon. Soprano Madeleine Wiegers will sing from the balcony at 12:30 p.m., and the choral students will harmonize for the second time at 1 p.m. The Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble will give a third performance come 2 p.m., and the choral students will close out the musical numbers during a 3 p.m. performance.
Four of the day's activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sound of hoof beats will herald the start of carriage rides (and more Christmas treats) at Wymer Insurance. Creative Spirits will offer kids painting on a come-and-go basis for $10. Deli on the Ave. will roast chestnuts and marshmallows in their courtyard as well as offer free face painting, and the Spirit Lake Library will be guiding visitors through a make-and-take craft session, with Mrs. Claus reading stories at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., H&R Block will be hosting activities with the Humane Society of Northwest Iowa. The session will include photos with "Buddy" the elf, playtime with some of their furry friends and there will be some custom gift making to be had (not to mention holiday food and drink).
Cross the intersection again for photos with Santa from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Allure & Co, or head over to This 'n' That Eclectics from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for a hot chocolate bar. If hot chocolate doesn't quite hit the spot, Sportsman's Pub is offering two-for-one drinks from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well.
Timeless Consignments will be hosting an elf hunt from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and, at Grand Occasions, the elves themselves will help younsters find gifts for their family ($5 and under) from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during Santa's Secret Shop. Aurora Book is planning a Whoville Scavenger Hunt from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Grinch we be on hand until 6 p.m. for photos. Meanwhile, Papa's Smokin' Meats will park its food truck just up the street from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The truck will offer $1 hotdogs and soup specials.
Just a bit to the south, Megan & Co. will be teaming up with Lakes Life Skills for letters to Santa and some holiday gift wrapping from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Megan & Co.'s location. And no letter to Santa would be complete without some cookies to go with it. National Escrow and Abstract will be helping decorate cookies at Bjornstad Law Office from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public can paint ceramic Christmas ornaments from 1-4 p.m. at Kurio Kastle on a come-and-go basis for $10. Ruthven Locker will offer a different kind of decorating during the same window. For $5, visitors can decorate a reindeer bucket and fill it with oats (there will also be snacks for humans).
As evening rolls in, Creative Spirits will offer adults a variety of options during a select-a-project session at 6:30 p.m. Sportsman's Pub invites the public to end the night with a display of their creations from Creative Spirits in the pub from 7:30-10 p.m., when the drink specials will once again be on tap.