Iowa News

Discover the Enchanting Holiday Spirit in Story City

Story City, a picturesque town located in rural Story County, is set to unveil its annual holiday extravaganza that promises to captivate visitors of all ages. As a beloved tradition since 1914, Story City erects a magnificent temporary roundabout on Broad Street each December, adorned with a dazzling Christmas tree that radiates warmth and joy. This year’s enchanting theme, “Find the Holiday Magic in Story City,” aims to immerse visitors in a world of wonder and festive cheer.

Yulefest, an event steeped in the town’s proud Norwegian heritage, takes place annually on the Friday following Thanksgiving. The festivities include a delightful caroling session around the resplendent tree, a momentous tree-lighting ceremony, and a delightful visit from Santa Claus. Additionally, families can indulge in a scrumptious soup supper, generously hosted by the local fire station, where they can savor heartwarming soups and hot dogs while supporting a great cause. The fire station uses the proceeds from the event to ensure their equipment remains up-to-date, enabling them to serve the community effectively.

Story City’s illustrious Christmas tree tradition celebrates its remarkable 109th anniversary this year. In 1914, when the concept of electric holiday lights was still novel, Story City made headlines by erecting the first municipal Christmas tree in Iowa. The spectacle of the tree lighting drew visitors from far and wide, as its splendor became the talk of the Midwest. Peter Eide, a visitor from out of town, marveled at the tree’s grandeur, describing it as “the biggest stunt the town ever pulled off.”

The communal tree, devoid of any affiliation with a particular organization or individual, symbolizes the unity and shared joy of the entire community. It serves as a majestic reminder of the upcoming celebration of the King of Kings, embodying the hopes and festive spirit of Story City. The Story City Herald aptly proclaimed in 1914, “Besides the tree stands for Story City’s unity in a most effective way. It represents no church, no society, no individual. It is in very truth a Municipal Christmas Tree, embodying forth the hopes and joys of the whole community, reminding all to prepare for the natal day of the King of Kings.”

Immerse yourself in the enchanting festivities and discover the magic that Story City has to offer this holiday season. Experience the awe-inspiring Christmas tree, revel in the caroling sessions, and create beautiful memories with loved ones. Story City awaits, ready to transport you to a world of holiday wonder and joy.


1. When is the tree lighting ceremony?
The tree lighting ceremony takes place on Friday, Nov. 24, at 6 p.m.

2. What is Yulefest?
Yulefest is a festive event held annually in Story City on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It includes caroling, the ceremonial tree lighting, a visit from Santa, a soup supper, and a cookie-decorating activity.

3. What is the purpose of the Soup with Santa event at the fire station?
The Soup with Santa event at the fire station is an opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy delicious soup and hot dogs. The event operates on a free-will donation basis, and all funds raised go toward keeping the fire station’s equipment updated for the benefit of the community.

By Alan Caldwell

Alan Caldwell is a respected authority and prolific writer on the subject of urban renewable energy systems in American cities. His expertise lies in exploring the implementation and impact of green energy solutions, such as solar and wind power, in urban landscapes. Caldwell's work often highlights the challenges and successes of integrating renewable energy into city grids, advocating for environmentally sustainable and economically viable energy strategies. His insightful analyses and recommendations have been influential in shaping how cities approach their transition to cleaner energy sources, contributing significantly to the discourse on sustainable urban development.