About eight years ago, my husband told me he had received a job offer from a university in South Dakota. My immediate thought was, "uhhhhh... where?" You see, at the time we lived in sunny San Diego, California, and "small town U.S.A." seemed very far away from where we were at that point in time, and honestly sounded a little bleak. However, we took the time to visit the school, the city, and the surrounding area, and we knew this place in middle America was right where we wanted to settle down. Don't get me wrong, I loved living in San Diego, but I was ready to make the move to a smaller city (town) and a slower pace.
Jump ahead eight years and I love where we live, though many people who have lived here do question our sanity and motives. A very close friend has often joked, "Who the heck would move from San Diego TO South Dakota? Only thing I can think of is someone who is part of the Witness Protection program... yup, that is the answer!" No, we are not part of the W.P.P., and as a matter of fact moving to one of the coldest states in the U.S. really was a conscious choice, REALLY!
Honestly, we love it here. Not having to plan our days around traffic is an absolute blessing. And, all of the little things that we took for granted in a big city are things that we cherish here. One example is the annual Festival of Lights Parade that the city has hosted since 1998. In the early evening hours on the weekend following Thanksgiving, local businesses and organizations make their way to Main Street on a personalized, lighted float. Despite the often cold temperatures, we love the event because of the small-town camaraderie, lively music, and wonderfully creative, lighted floats.
The Ladybug and Butterfly boogying during the parade.
This year marked the first year the Butterfly was given the opportunity to enjoy the event (I still find it hard to believe that she has only been home with us from China for just over four months). Being a wee-one barely a year and a half, she had no clue what was going on when we left the house all bundled up (thankfully, Daddy had just purchased a nice, warm, thick, winter coat that provided the much-needed warmth for the Bug). Then when we arrived downtown and decided to plant ourselves on the edge of the street, out in the cold no less. The poor thing really seemed concerned because we weren't moving on. Fortunately, to keep us warm we brought a couple blankets, hats, mittens, and some nice and warm apple cider. Though the cider helped to divert the Bug's attention from the cold for a bit, what made all the difference in her ambivalence toward the evening was the moment she saw and heard the first float.
Daddy and the Ladybug enjoying the parade... with angel 3-D glasses!
We all thoroughly enjoyed our evening together as a family, watching each of the fun, silly, creative, and beautiful lighted floats pass by. Whenever a float passed with some fun, upbeat music, the Baby Bug started boogying and rocking out in her stroller. She was quite a sight with so much enthusiasm. The baby Bug had a great time all evening... she loved it! I am thoroughly looking forward to the coning years as we continue this tradition of enjoying the Festival of Lights.
The Butterfly rocking out to the great music.
A fun entry this year... believe it or not, singing toilets. A total fan hit!
The Ladybug and daddy enjoying the parade.
Some of our local nurses enjoying their time away from the hospital.
Our favorite entry from our local Air Force base. One of the airmen actually sang with the float, what an amazing voice. So happy to have these men and women serve our country.
Although we adopted our girls internationally, this float asking for support for local foster and adoptive families really touched my heart. We are all part of a special family.
Members of the fire department provided lots of lights and music for all.
A fun "Shop Early" float, with perfectly timed lights and music, from UPS.
The local HOG (Harley Owners Group), leading the way for Santa.
Santa, enjoying the crowd on the last float of the parade.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this spectacular parade and helped to make this wonderful city a great place to live.