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What's more preposterous: a sleigh propelled by a pack of airborne reindeer or a Christmas tree piloted by some similarly flight-minded porcine?

That was one of the thoughts racing through my mind after viewing the holiday trees up for bid at Sioux City's 25th annual Festival of Trees.

For the past quarter of a century, area businesses, churches, service organizations and individuals have been creating specialty trees, wreaths and other holiday items that will be up for bid during a live auction at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. 

This year, the trees and the subsequent auction is being held inside the atrium of the Ho-Chunk Centre, 600 Fourth St.

The nonprofit organization benefiting from Festival of Trees proceeds will be Welcome Home, a Community Action Agency initiative that combines transitional housing and outreach services in an effort to get homeless Siouxland families off of the streets and into someplace safe and warm.

So, what does this have to do with a flying piggy motif that dominated a tree decorated by Famous Dave's? Not much but the barbecue restaurant's display was mighty cute.

Yet I feared that the trees decorated by Physical Therapy Specialists (in Iowa State University Cyclone yellows and reds) and the Goodwill of the Great Plains (with the University of Iowa Hawkeye black and gold) could be considered a tad controversial.

After all, collegiate sports usually ranks up there with Presidential politics when it comes to topics to be avoided at Thanksgiving.

Considerably less controversial (and more bucolic) were trees decorated by the American Farmers Consulting Services, which had barns, tractors and a big ol' ears of corn, and Special Troopers Adaptive Riding School (S.T.A.R.S.), which had a lotta horses, horseshoes and the like.

Some of the Festival of Trees decorators took inspiration by the sponsor's business.

For instance, disposable cups and small bags of Mexican coffees was an appropriate way to decorate a tree for Sweet Water Cafe, a Ho-Chuck Centre that specialized in, you guessed it, high-end coffees. 

Other trees will leave you scratching your head for clues.

Like why does Knoepfler Chevrolet have a tree in the shape of "Sesame Street"'s Cookie Monster?  I mean, are Muppets into Malibu's? Do car salespeople get addicted to sweets? OK, the latter is probably more true than the former.

Still as a pop cultural guru, I can appreciate the rock and roll spirit behind Hard Rock Hotel + Casino's all-white tree featuring a guitar, ginormous sunglasses and a porkpie hat (think albino rock legend Edgar Winters) as well as the Ho-Chunk Centre's tribute in blinding blue to the King himself.

Which only goes to show that there's no right or wrong way to decorate a Christmas tree.

Are you sick of candy canes or elves on the shelves cluttering up your tree? Go hard-core by creating some guitar-wielding piggies or a Cookie Monster who has given up cookies for some Sweet Water Cafe-quality caffeine.

In other words, let your personality shine as brightly as your Christmas tree. 

Personally, I still need to pick up a tree, untangle the lights I have from last year while cleaning out a random corner of my house. 

Wait, this has to be done by Dec. 25? Oh well, there's always next year, I guess.


Food and Lifestyles reporter

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