—by Julie Ferrell, Tribune staff writer

(with contributions from the Story City Herald)

Story City held its annual Christmas tree lighting Friday night (Nov. 29) on the Broad Street town square, complete with caroling, a chili supper and chance to meet Santa. Following the lighting of the tree, hot chocolate was enjoyed at the Chamber office, followed by a stroll to the fire station for some hot chili and a visit with Old Saint Nick. The Story City firemen were even called out on a fire call just as the crowd was arriving, so the kids in attendance were treated to some excitement as the men grabbed their gear and sped away, with the fire truck sirens blaring. It was an added bonus for the anxious children waiting to see Santa. When the firemen returned they backed their trucks into the empty stalls, where Santa soon took his place on the back bumper of one of the trucks to begin meeting his young fans.

It was also a reunion for Edith Cole and her family on this night. Cole, 74, had family visiting from Kansas, and she was happy to bring them along to the tree lighting this year. Cole’s son, Dennis, 45, and his three children were visiting for the first time in three years, and Dennis Cole said it was fun to come back to his hometown and see the holiday tradition again.

"We decided it was time to come back for Thanksgiving with Mom, and this is what they do the day after Thanksgiving," Cole said. "It’s fun to have the family tradition, especially when we come visit."

Visitors from across Iowa came to the tree lighting as well. Ed Lock, 50, of Emmetsburg was visiting his granddaughter Reagan Hochberger, 2, in her hometown. Lock also showed grandson Dominic Osterhout, 2, of Urbandale, the large Christmas tree and helped him learn the colors of the lights.

Ali Hansen, 36, came to the lighting with her children, Aiden, 7, and Sydney, 3, and friends. Hansen said the group goes to the lighting every year, and it’s a good time to come together with friends and family.

"It’s all about getting the family together," Hansen said. "It’s just about being with friends and family and coming to the tree lighting and enjoying being here with everyone, seeing their happy faces."