The Lope

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Twenty-nine Years Coming

This is a guest post by my brother, film-maker and life-long sports fan Steve Holmes:

According to, it’s 299.8 miles by road from Burlington, Iowa to Kansas City. To a baseball player, toiling on the ground floor of the Kansas City Royals’ minor-league system, it must seem a heck of a lot further.

Yet future major-league stars develop their stills in Burlington and in a couple hundred equally obscure places in America. An example is one of the headliners of Kansas City’s improbable trip to this year’s World Series, Mike Moustakas (pictured, running to third base in 2008).

The previous year, this is Moustakas playing in an amateur tournament in my hometown of Joplin.

I did nothing to help “Moose” hone the swing that hit four home runs in the 2014 playoffs, more than anyone in Royals’ postseason history except Hall of Famer George Brett. But still, I feel a sort of pride, akin, I suppose, to the glow a music fan enjoys when an indie band he followed since hearing them in a dive bar bursts into the big time: The satisfaction of having known for years about something the wider world has just discovered.

This is KC’s first World Series trip since 1985. Twenty-nine years ago, I was in the thick of the World Series as a sports reporter for a Kansas City TV station, covering the Royals from spring training to the champagne-soaked championship clubhouse.

Then, I knew the Royals’ organization inside and out. I traveled with a team scout to check out possible future stars. Sat in on the player draft that decides whom to bet will become winners. Talked with my favorite players: Frank White, Buddy Black and John Wathan, and learned an important lesson about maintaining an even keel in life by observing their manager, the late Dick Howser.

The year 2014 finds me in a much different place in my life – and not just in location. But for the clincher, I drove south from Iowa City towards the Missouri line so I could catch a signal from the Royals’ radio network. I wanted to hear it from Denny Matthews, the team’s announcer since it began life in 1969. The guy to whom I listened growing up, who invited me to join his amateur hockey team in the KC days (“Thanks, Denny, but I can’t skate”), who endured decades of teams for whom mere mediocrity was just a pipe dream.

Tonight is not just for Kansas City. It’s for Burlington, Wichita, Springdale (Arkansas), Omaha and wherever else I’ve seen these players stumble and learn from it, growing into the American League Champions they became just thirty minutes ago.

My route tonight took me to Burlington. A stop at the ballpark was mandatory. Maybe some friendly ghosts would be celebrating the triumph of Burlington’s graduates. While there was bedlam 299.8 miles to the southwest, Community Field was dark and quiet. I just gave it a salute and my thanks to it, and the team’s loyal volunteer boosters, for helping tonight happen.

On the way home, I listened to a postgame call-in show from KC. The host asked callers who they felt this victory was for. For one fan, it was his brother, a die-hard fan who didn’t live to see this. For another, his father, giver of season tickets to all his kids. Dad passed away last year. A third long-suffering fan could enjoy this with his child. Another caller was born one day after the Royals’ clinched their last title. Twenty-nine years later, he gets to feel what the rest of us felt while he was preparing to leave the womb.

And I cried for my own loss: a dear friend, gone three and a half years now. Regular readers of Greg’s page know of L.V. Oxendine, a big sports fan. How I wish he was here to watch this with me.

I hadn’t worn my satin Royals’ jacket in about 25 years before I pulled it from the closet last night. Funny thing. Either it’s shrunk, or I’ve grown. Twenty-nine years is a long time.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Sun Dog

It's a lovely morning here in Reno County, Kansas. This was the eastern sky at 7:51 a.m. when the temperature was one degree Fahrenheit. The effect is called a "sun dog" and is best looked up yourself rather than having me explain it.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Fun with the Polar Vortex: Freezing Soap Bubbles

As long as you're in sub-zero temperatures, you might as well enjoy it. During the recent polar vortex I shot video and stills of frozen soap bubbles. I was treated to the swirling snowflake pattern in the screen capture above.

This is a composite of segments I shot between 8:23 a.m. and 9:24 a.m. on January 6, 2014, in Joplin, Missouri. The temperature when I started was -11 °F; when I finished it had risen to -8 °F.

I particularly enjoyed these fractals.

This is one of the few stills I shot, concentrating instead on the video.

And this is a close-up of the crystalline structure of a broken bubble.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Hyde Park Luminaria, 2012

With the 2013 Hyde Park Luminaria coming up this Saturday, here are some images and a video from 2012. The annual luminaria started in 1983 and now spreads over 36 blocks - east to west from Main to Monroe and north to south from 23rd to 18th. Really, you should go this year.

At dusk, residents and friends set out to light the candles in the sand-anchored sacks.

Santa was there, giving out candy canes.

If anyone knows the names of the porch musicians in this video, please comment as I'd like to credit them.

Of course, there was the traffic, but it was worth it.

See also The Lope: Hyde Park Luminaria .

Sunday, December 01, 2013

A Guide to Hutchinson, KS, Christmas Lights, 2013

I added new locations on Sunday night, December 22, such as this one on Meadowlark Lane near 23rd Avenue.

Here are some highlights of what Hutchinson, KS, has to offer in Christmas lights and displays in 2013. Some of the pictures were taken prior to this year but I have checked to see that all are lit for 2013.

First off, if you have limited time make sure you see our most unique display, the "Grandma's House" automations of Dale Hankins at 25 Countryside Drive. Each mechanical grandchild is on its way to Hankins' house via a different mode of transportation.

Here's a video I shot just a few days ago as it snowed on the display.

Dale, a retired nuclear scientist, adds new pieces most years, for background information see our posts from 2007 and 20082009, 20102011 and 2012.

Near Dale's house you'll also find this highly color saturated home at 3001 North Monroe Street. In addition to lots of LED lights, they've chosen to use their house as a canvas for colored floodlights and have "Glory to God" and "Peace on Earth" signs." There's also a manger scene that faces 30th Avenue.

Wesley Towers, a retirement complex at 700 Monterey Place, features stars facing four directions, horizontal architectural lights and a pole tree. Some homes in the neighborhood have smaller pole trees.

On the NE corner of Carlton and Curtis you'll find this vintage red truck. It's being driven by Santa but he wasn't visible in the snowy windshield the night I shot, so I'll be back.

Theme Neighborhoods

If you're in Hutchinson on December 21, take in the Hyde Park luminaria (one night only). It covers a 36 block area from Main to Monroe streets and from 23rd to 18th avenues. There are usually horse and wagon rides and refreshments. For more info and pictures see Hyde Park Luminaria in Hutchinson and The Hyde Park Luminaria, 2012.

Aside from its impressive luminaria, the Hyde Park area has some wonderfully decorated homes. This resident at 201 West 20th Ave. displays a collection of blow mold Santas.

The largest season-long area of Christmas lights is a half-mile square area of perimeter lights that covers most lawns from East 17th to 23rd Avenues and Meadowlark Lane to North Lorraine St. The tradition started a number of years ago on East 22nd Avenue and typically begins Thanksgiving weekend and lasts til New Years.

The house at 62 Meadowlark Lane is a sort of cornerstone of this neighborhood and is often the most decorated.

Here's a video of their shivering snowman, particularly appropriate as I write this on a night when the temp is supposed to go down to four degrees.

Within this area, part of East 20th Avenue displays blow mold candy canes.

Also within the perimeter light area, the house at 23 Rambler Road is also quite ornate and has a small Ferris wheel with stuffed animals.

A neighborhood north of 56th street features large wooden Christmas cards, though sadly the tradition is fading. I recommend starting at Sequoia and 56th.

An oval of streets consisting of Brookwood Drive, Wesbrook Drive and Linda Lane displays mail boxes decorated with red and green lights.

Just across Hendricks Street from the red and green mailbox neighborhood, Seville Court displays light poles wrapped in red lights.

The most prominent Yuletide feature of the Antique District of South Main Street is this this light frame helicopter atop the Anchor Inn at Main Street and Avenue B. This shot is from 2009; It's the same helicopter but the building has more lights now.

The Antique district displays lighted pole decorations featuring nostalgic graphics. These are used from Avenue A to about Avenue D along South Main Street.

This style of wreath with bells is used along Main and a little bit of some side streets from Avenue A to the BNSF railroad tracks at about 3rd Avenue. This year the incandescent lights in the wreaths seen above were replaced with cool white LED lights. For more pictures of Hutchinson's street pole decorations under lots of weather conditions, see my 2010 Hutchinson Christmas light guide.

Light and Sound Synchronized Displays

There are at least five synchronized music and light shows in Hutchinson. I have listed the FM radio frequency you'll need so you can already be tuned in as you approach.

1004 College Lane, home of Jason Rose, sometimes features a live Santa. Set your radio to 106.7 FM. The heavily decorated backyard of this home is visible from 14th Avenue. Additional pictures here and here.

2602 Heather Parkway is the home of Jon Powell. Set your radio to 107.7 FM.

"David's Display" at 804 Newport Road features a flat screen TV placed against a window with a DVD of Santa within the room and occasionally looking out. Set your radio to 89.7 FM.

A projection screen on a porch at 201 East 14th Ave shows a religious message. Set your radio to 89.7 FM.

First Church of the Nazarene, 4290 N Monroe, has a set of four singing Christmas Trees. Set your radio to 90.7 FM.

New this year is a display by the Carson family at 810 East 2nd Ave. Set your radio to 106.7 FM.

"Lights on 26th" at 131 West 26th Ave is not a synchronized display this year as it has been in the past, but does offer Christmas music at 106.7 FM.

More Yuletide Houses

This tall green light tree grows at 910 East 43rd Avenue, just east of Sequoya Street

Wooden reindeer, Santa and sleigh traverse the yard at 501 East 41st Avenue.

The house on the NW corner of Adams Street and 30th Avenue usually features this metal lawn bison in holiday attire and 2013 is no exception.

The house at 400 East 12th Avenue has added new decorations every year for decades, such as this set of jointed wood reindeer. Wood cut-outs and patterns were once sold by retailers like Sears but were eventually replaced by plastic blow mold pieces. These in turn fell in popularity in the 1970s. Big nylon inflatables now hold this market niche but I prefer to concentrate on the older rarities.

A home at 3810 Halstead Street features a backlit poinsettia graphic.

This house on the NW corner of East 6th Avenue and North Maple Street has a long tradition of being thoroughly decked out for the holidays.

This house at 455 Justice Street in Careyville is the southernmost of several adjacent houses on Justice Street between Avenue G and Center Street.

The span of four houses extends to 431 Justice.

The Barretts at 204 South Walnut in South Hutchinson have illuminated their home in a fashion that draws attention from hwy 96. There is also a speaker on the lawn playing Christmas music from a local radio station.

The Houston Whiteside Historical District has a number of decorated homes. This one, at Plum Street and First Avenue, features a talking, singing automated Santa. The district is roughly bordered by the BNSF railroad tracks on the North, Avenue B on the South, Elm Street to the West and Pershing Street to the East.

One of my favorite houses lies just outside the Houston Whiteside District on the north side of Avenue A between Pershing and Severance streets. I like it because they utilize an indentation for a nativity scene.

Other Sites of Note

Cargill's grain elevator near 3rd Ave and K-61 features a decades-old star. See more in this blog post. I remember in the 1970s one could see stars atop grain elevators in the distance all over the place. This is not the case anymore.

Hutchinson Community College has a Merry Christmas sign and star atop Lockman Hall, visible along the east side of North Plum Street just north of East 11th Ave. If you're lucky enough to have snow, you can have some fun photographing this as there's an electronic message sign just out of frame that lends various colors to the snow. I opted for a moment with deep blue.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 1602 North Main Street, displays a life-size Nativity set that was passed on to it from the now-defunct Peques Department store, downtown.

The First Presbyterian Church at 201 East Sherman has star patterns made of lights atop its tower. As of this writing, they turn on at 6 p.m.

The Medicine Shop at 1401 North Main Street is outlined with red lights again this year.

The City Building of South Hutchinson at 7 South Main Street has erected a sort of pole tree on its roof.


Shopping downtown as seen here in the Antique District of South Main Street can be a delightful throwback to the pre-mall U.S. Here's a foggy night in 2008.

As to Christmas movies, the Fox Theatre will show Christmas Vacation on Christmas day at 7:30 p.m.