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SIOUX CITY | Chalk it up to good parenting.

That's what Linda Novotny did when sisters Brooke and Katie Oldenkamp brought her a May basket on Wednesday.

Never mind that Sioux City was having its first May 1 snowfall since 1970. Brooke, a second-grader, and Katie, a fourth-grader, made the rounds of their Morningside neighborhood to keep a dying tradition alive. They dropped off plastic cups filled with Twix, Tootsie Pops, Starburst, mini Snickers and Blow Pops at homes along South Alice and South Steele streets.

Novotny's house was their first stop.

"This is amazing," said Novotny, who estimated that May baskets had their heyday in the 1970s. 

"They are the only ones that have come to do May baskets. You never see it anymore," Novotny said. "She is a good mother, bringing them up the right way."

The girls' mother, Jenny Oldenkamp, 37, said she's glad her daughters have embraced the custom.

"When I grew up, my whole block did it. I like to continue it, because not many people do," Jenny Oldenkamp said.

Although the weather had seemed promising during an earlier break in the snowfall, a second round of flakes began falling right before the Oldenkamps departed on foot for their errand at 4 p.m., after school.

Although the intrepid trio was undaunted by the 32-degree weather, Mom did make one concession -- she drove the girls to more distant friends' homes after their deliveries close to home.

Brooke and Katie made the baskets Monday, using a punch to make holes in paper cups, then fastening colored pipe cleaners for handles.

"I like delivering them," said Katie.

"And putting candy in," Brooke said, interrupting.

"I like making people smile," said Katie, finishing her thought.

Catherine Lippke, a North High School senior, also delivered May baskets on Wednesday. Lippke said she's enjoyed taking baskets around on May Day since kindergarten, and she sees no reason to stop. She plans to keep right on delivering the secret treats next year, when she'll be a freshman at Morningside College.

"I've done it every year," said Lippke, who lives in the 4300 block of Manor Circle on the north side.

"I like the whole idea that it is a surprise, that you are not supposed to know who leaves little gifts on your front porch. When I was little, it was kind of nice: 'Oh wow, somebody is actually thinking about me and left a little present for me.'"

Lippke typically leaves a basket and dashes away but often hides nearby to see the recipient's reaction. She's cut back on deliveries since elementary school, though -- only 15 this year after she assembled them Tuesday.

"I kind of go all over town actually, but I mostly go on the north side," Lippke said. She's even driven to Nebraska to drop off baskets but said her favorite years were when she walked in her neighborhood to make her deliveries.

"I am trying to keep it alive with my group of friends," Lippke said. "I don't know really about the little kids, but it just doesn't seem like something that people really celebrate anymore."

She readily recalls the best May Day gift she's ever received.

"I just got one last year. One of my friends took enough cups to spell out my name, and he filled them with candy and popcorn and then put Saran Wrap over them. He left them on my front porch. When I opened the door, my name was showing. Then he left the bag of leftover candy on my porch, so I was good to go," she said.

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County and education reporter

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