HAHA Builds Community in Hermosa

Our local youngsters partaking the brisk air in an old fashioned Christmas tradition.  Photo by Michael Proios

Our local youngsters partaking the brisk air in an old fashioned Christmas tradition.  Photo by Michael Proios

by Linda M. Hasselstrom

On Sunday afternoon, Hermosa celebrated community in the old-fashioned way at its first annual Christmas Carnival, sponsored by the Hermosa Arts and History Association. About 200 people, including at least sixty children, gathered in the beef building at the Custer County Fairgrounds for the event, organized to raise money for a furnace for the historical building that houses the local museum.

This little tike was busy fishing at the fish pond – her catch, a Christmas present! Photo by Michael Proios

Children attending the carnival played without charge, collecting gifts from the fish pond, the cookie walk, the bean bag toss.  Budding artists decorated Christmas ornaments and almost a hundred gingerbread men with icing, sprinkles and candy. Santa Claus kept busy discussing Christmas and gave each child a gift bag filled by Pop’s Grocery of Hermosa.

Outside, Carriage Service Hunsaker drove a team of Belgian horses drawing a Conestoga wagon around and around a hayfield, giving free rides to anyone interested. Thrilled and chilled riders filled up on cocoa before going out for another ride. Singers from a local church caroled and musician Spencer Smith played the electric keyboard.

Children were eagerly decorating their gingerbread men in the holiday spirit. Photo by Michael Proios

Behind the kitchen counter, volunteers including retirees, a federal agent, mothers and a writer, dispensed several varieties of soup, including chicken with noodles or rice, red and white chili, beef and hamburger vegetable, posole, bacon, cheese and potato, all made by members and volunteers. Plates of pumpkin, pecan, apple, berry, blueberry, coconut, banana and chocolate cream pie circulated to the tables in the center of the hall. At long tables, ranchers visited with subdivision residents, newcomers with old-timers and Hermosa residents with visitors from out of town.

At the bake sale table, presided over by Nancy Trautman and Clara Zechin, shoppers could find a dozen kinds of homemade cookies, snacks, sweetbreads, along with HAHA souvenir mugs and t-shirts and honey produced locally. A turkey, quilt and several gift bags were raffled off, as were several pies.

Doug Hesnard’s memorial Christmas Tree, decorated with the passions of his life. Photo by Michael Proios

An electric train, its engine that’s a replica of the 1880 train at Hill City, was loaned by Jake Smith to complete a special display dedicated to the memory of Douglas Hesnard, one of the founders of HAHA and its president until his recent death.

Honoring Doug’s love of Christmas, Nancy Trautman decorated a live tree with the HAHA theme, “Railroads, Cowboy and Memories,” using red poinsettias and gold ribbon, interspersed with some of Doug’s favorite poems and a book he helped publish, along with handmade ornaments donated by Clara Zechin. The tree was topped with Doug’s cowboy hat and a large photo of him stood nearby, along with pictures of some of the Christmas trees he decorated.

Throughout the afternoon, Mike Proios, acting postmaster and HAHA webmaster, took photographs of every phase of the event. By noon the next day, he’d produced a video, available at Hermosa History and on YouTube.

Busy creating a custom Christmas tree ornament that only a child’s imagination can create. Photo by Michael Proios

All proceeds from the event will benefit HAHA, which regularly sponsors events designed to unify the sprawling community as well as to continue renovations of the historic museum building, particularly installation of a furnace so more community events can be held there during winter months. Plans for the future include ice skating parties and dances.

Santa’s Helpers for the event included Badlands Sand & Gravel, Nancy & Gary Baker, Heartland Convenience, Hunsaker Carriage Service, G. J. Holsworth & Sons, Betty & Roger Dikoff, 4S Trucking, Loerzel Construction, Trails West Saloon, Lintz Brothers Pizza, Pops Grocery Shoppe, Windbreak House Retreats, Battle Creek Agency, Geo Aire, and the Custer County Fair Board.

Linda M. Hasselstrom, author of 14 books of nonfiction and poetry, conducts writing retreats on her ranch near Hermosa. Her latest nonfiction title is No Place Like Home: Notes from a Western Life.

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