SIOUX CITY -- Ragan Cote knows a thing or two about decorating Christmas trees.

"It's better to use gold or red decorations," the executive director of Downtown Partners said as she oversaw a handful of volunteers on Nov. 15. "If you use green decorations, they'll just get lost against the green in the tree."

Actually, the tree that Cote and her crew is accessorizing is hard to miss.

It is the 21-foot artificial evergreen that will be standing in the front yard of the Sioux City Public Museum, 607 Fourth St., between now and the beginning of the new year.

"I love having our tree at the museum," Cote said. "It really is the perfect location for it."

However, decorating the official Downtown Sioux City Christmas tree is just the start of a slate of Downtown for the Holidays activities, which will begin when the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 231 presents the annual Holiday Lighted Parade at 6:15 p.m. Monday.

"The parade will start at Iowa Street, jingling its way down Fourth Street," Cote said.

More than 30 Siouxland businesses, organizations and service groups are expected to participate in the parade for exposure, as well as some seasonal bragging rights. 

There will be a $150 first place prize, a $100 second place prize and a $50 third place for each class of commercial and noncommercial float.

In addition, the LaunchPAD Children's Museum, 607 Pearl St., will be offering free admission from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Monday in exchange for hand warmers, socks or travel-sized toiletries for the Warming Shelter, 916 Nebraska St. 

While you're at the Children's Museum, Cote recommends walking a few blocks away to Evolve Yoga & Wellness Center, 411 Pearl St., for some free chocolate.

Chances are you'll need some sustenance since the night is just getting started, she added.

From 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, the Public Museum will also be open to accommodate a certain North Pole-based visitor.

After Santa Claus officially lights up the Downtown for the Holidays Christmas tree, he'll be holding court, across the street, at Santa's House, 409 Nebraska St. 

Open from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 4 p.m., Sundays, Santa's House will give kids a chance to visit with the jolly man, himself, from Nov. 24 through Dec. 20.

This year's Festival of Trees will also begin its season with bell choirs and dance performance taking place at the Ho-Chunk Centre atrium, 600 Fourth St. Cote suggests checking out the trees, which will be on display through Nov. 29, when the Festival of Tree auction begins at 6:30 p.m.

The proceeds of this year's auction will go to the Mary J. Treglia Community House, 900 Jennings St.

Checking out the oversize decorations that will be hanging on the Christmas tree in front of the front of the public museum, Cote can't help but smile. 

"It seems like the year has just flown by," she said. "I'm just so happy that  the holidays will soon be here."

As her staff put the finishing touches on their festive tree, Cote said, "Well, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas." 

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