SIOUX CITY -- In a nod to the 1940s, a new paint job on one of the area's most prominent water tanks now touts the city as the "Home of Sioux City Sue."

Workers expect to finish work Friday on the Singing Hills water tank in Sertoma Park. Crews have painted the tank a shade of tan with maroon block-style lettering, marking a stark contrast from water tank's previous light-blue color. The design also includes a line of generic musical notes painted in black.

Water Plant Superintendent Brad Puetz said City Council members selected the color scheme to achieve a "rustic" look on the tower. 

The idea to paint a design on the tank came at the suggestion of Sioux City Council members, who wanted a distinct feature on at least one of the city's eight water storage tanks. The city formed a small committee to toss out ideas, and the "Sioux City Sue" theme beat other ideas such as a carousel, bubble gum dispenser and fishbowl. 

The tank sits on top of a hill in Sertoma Park and is visible from the Highway 75 bypass, Interstate 29, Cone Park and Southern Hills Mall. 

The musical reference hails back to the a 1945 folk song written by Dick Thomas and Ray Freedman that was performed by several musicians including Bing Crosby, Willie Nelson and Gene Autry. Autry also starred in a 1946 movie of the same title.

The popular tune brought notoriety to the city and quickly became a part of its heritage, notably marked by a "Sioux City Sue" contest in 1946 for females with natural red hair and blue eyes, like the song's title character. The city held more such contests in subsequent years. A B-17 plane was also named "Sioux City Sue" the same year the contest began.

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The paint job was the subject of multiple City Council discussions over the past year, resulting in tweaks when the city learned it would need to pay approximately $3,500 if it painted the actual music notes for the "Sioux City Sue" tune. The council then opted for the current design, which uses generic notes instead. 

Unlike the music to the song, Woodbury County holds the rights to the name Sioux City Sue. 

Council members approved a $95,640 contract with Utility Service Co. Inc. of Perry, Georgia, in January. The cost was less than half what the engineer had estimated the paint job would cost. 

Rick Mach, special assistant to the city manager, said the project cost will drop since the crews only painted two panels of lettering on the side, rather than the expected three due to spatial constraints.


Singing Hills water tower

The Sioux City Council will vote on a bid to repaint the Singing Hills water storage tank, pictured above. The council can opt to include words and musical notes on the side, and the words "Sioux City" on the top.


Sioux City Sue water reservoir

Employees of Logopro of Alabaster, Alabama, paint the Singing Hills water reservoir Wednesday, May 30, 2018. The reservoir is being painted with a Sioux City Sue theme and the crew expects to be finished Thursday. Sioux City Journal photo by Tim Hynds

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