Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! We scurried to get the Herald-Dispatch done a day early, because we figured you couldn’t wait until Friday to get your local news.

You’re welcome.

My colleague across the office, sports writer Brandon Streich, stole my ideas and wrote his column about being thankful and grateful for all kinds of things — you know, like family and mushy stuff like that.

I know something else we all are thankful for, and we start getting thankful for it on Thanksgiving night. We are all thankful for Sleepy Eye’s Holiday Lights in Motion!

We are thankful, but maybe we don’t always realize just how thankful we should be, especially to a couple young families.

Each year I tell you volunteers are needed to make the magic happen. Each year some people do volunteer to help the committee create the lights display. Each year some businesses offer use of their lifts or bucket trucks, along with volunteers to run them.

Each year the volunteers are much appreciated. Some years there simply are not enough of those much appreciated volunteers. The “lights on” day grows near, and the head honchos work around the clock, not imagining for a minute that they can give up before that final light bulb is in place.

This year is one of those years when volunteer labor didn’t quite meet the need. You probably know that committee co-chair, Mike Suess, is the guy who makes sure it all goes up and all works when the switch is flipped. He did gain a sidekick in the dedication department over the last couple years, when Andy Pelzel got bit with the bug to light up the park.

While I haven’t talked with Andy about Holiday Lights in Motion, I have talked to Mike on multiple occasions. I have no doubt that Mike and Andy enjoy what they do to provide this spectacular light display for the residents of Sleepy Eye and those who come from all around the region. It is just a lot for a couple guys, who leave their young families, night after night, all while worrying that it will never get done on time!

Last week, just after the Herald-Dispatch was printed for the week, I saw a post on Facebook from Mike’s wife, Kristy. She asked for help. She said the stress of working so many late nights (into early mornings sometimes) was exhausting Mike and Andy. She was blunt: they needed help over the weekend to get the job done.

Thank you, Kristy, your words were just what Sleepy Eye needed. Extra volunteers came to the park Saturday and Sunday, to help Mike and Andy and the committee finish up this year’s display. No doubt, the lovely weather helped. Everyone could work without freezing their fingers and toes.

I stopped out at the park around 4 on Sunday afternoon to take a picture. It turned out to be perfect timing. Mike and Kristy’s son, Brayden, were going up in a lift to place the star at the top of the big Christmas tree in the center of the display — the final piece. Everything was in place and plugged in, all ready for opening night, 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Mike was pretty happy. But, he wasn’t done yet. He said he had a couple loose ends to tie up, then he planned to light it up for a special preview Sunday night. He didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see the lights reflected in the mirror-like lake. If you got to see that too, count yourself lucky. The rest of us have to wait until Thursday night.

I suppose you can count yourself thankful, too. One of the things that we in Sleepy Eye are most thankful for will be there for our delight through New Year’s Day.

So, I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful to have wonderful friends. I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful that the Herald-Dispatch has readers and advertisers.

I’m thankful that I live in Sleepy Eye — a town where people care about community involvement. What would life in Sleepy Eye be like if we didn’t have people like Mike Suess and Shari Hittesdorf, who brought Sleepy Eye Holiday Lights in Motion from an idea to reality?

It wouldn’t be as sparkly, that’s for sure.