SIOUX CITY -- Inspired by a 2019 holiday visit to New York City, Cheryl Wells wanted to bring the excitement, joy and grandeur of a Big Apple Christmas to her home town of Le Mars, Iowa.
"There is something magical about this time of the year," Cheryl Wells, owner of Habitue Coffeehouse, said. "It is even more meaningful when you get to spend the holiday surrounded by all of your friends and family."
That's why Cheryl Wells, her husband, Mike Wells, CEO of Wells Enterprises, and Michaela Brown, of the gospel singing group Brown Family, created "Christmas in Hometown Le Mars," a kickoff for the holidays in the Ice Cream Capital of the World in 2020.
"We had a beautiful, 26-foot Christmas tree but, due to COVID-19, the tree-lighting ceremonies had to be a virtual Facebook presentation," Cheryl Wells recalled. "Even though we had an elaborate outdoor Winter Wonderland display, people had to view it from their cars."
With fewer pandemic-related restrictions in place, Cheryl Wells said this year's "Christmas in Hometown Le Mars" will be closer to the way she had envisioned it.
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Mike Wells agreed.
"We consider last year as being a trial run," he said. "This year, the entire community will get a chance to celebrate the season together."
"Christmas in Hometown Le Mars" will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday with a showing of the classic holiday movie, "Home Alone," at Total Motors, 801 Hawkeye Ave. SW.
Events will begin in earnest, throughout downtown Le Mars and Foster Park, all day Saturday.
For instance, kids can have have breakfast with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the Central Event Center, 10 Central Ave.SE, beginning at 8:30 a.m., before visiting Santa and Mrs. Claus at Habitue Coffeehouse, 108 Central Ave. NW, starting at 9 a.m.
Real-life reindeer will be hanging out at Blue Tequila, 15 First St. NE, beginning at 10 a.m. That is also when a "Find The Joy" scavenger hunt starts at many downtown stores.
For folks wanting to lose some of the weight gained after Thanksgiving meals may enjoy a Santa Fun Run 5K/10K Run Walk, which begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Olson Cultural Events Center, 33 First St. NE.
"We literally have something fun going on somewhere for the entire day," Cheryl Wells said.
That includes kid crafting workshops at the Le Mars Art Center, 200 Central Ave. South, adult crafting workshops at the Wells Visitor Center & Ice Cream Parlor, 115 Central Ave. NW, and stories of Christmas joy from essayist James C. Schaap at the Le Mars Public Library, 46 First St. SW.
"None of this would be possible without the support of the entire community," Mike Wells said. Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff loves to talk about creating private and public partnerships. This is a perfect example at those partnerships at work."
Audiences wanting holiday entertainment can see Adam, Andrew, Michaela and Shelly Brown in The Browns "Christmas Now!" Show, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Brown Theatre, 11 Central Ave. SE.
"We'll be performing our Christmas show, now through Dec. 23," Michaela Brown said. "So, there will be plenty of opportunities to see us."
However, "Christmas in Hometown Le Mars" will really hit its stride at 6 p.m., when the 26-foot Christmas tree is lit, a Christmas story is told and the Brown Family will sing at a ceremony at the Olson Cultural Events Center, 33 First St. NE.
Mike Wells said this has been an especially momentous year for the Plymouth County seat of about 10,000.
"During the summer, thousands of cyclists came to Le Mars, the first stop for RAGBRAI," he said. "And a few weeks ago, crews began installing the big welcome sign at the entrance of downtown Le Mars."
Indeed, an 80-foot-wide by 20-foot-tall steel sign now extends over Central Avenue, between First Street NE and Plymouth Street.
For Cheryl Wells, it will just as she envisioned Christmas in her hometown would look like.
"It would be wonderful if this will be the start of a new holiday tradition for all of Siouxland," she said. "Christmas is a very special time in Le Mars."