Just after Thanksgiving, I received a text message from the Pawhuska (OK) Chamber of Commerce that said, “Kind of kidding, but if you Steve want to be in Pawhuska the first weekend in December, I have two judging spots left for the parade. We just miss you all!”

It had been several weeks since we’d taken our moms there for a visit and truth be told, we missed Pawhuska, too. I quickly answered the text with, “Sign us up!.”

Each Christmas, we usually plan a short family getaway to see something new and celebrate the season. We’ve gone to Christian music concerts, sought out Christmas light displays, and last year saw Mannheim Steamroller live for the first time. So, it was very exciting to add something new to our list of Christmas adventures and we’d heard so many good things about Pawhuska’s annual holiday lights parade.

Kihekah Ave., Pawhuska, Oklahoma

All ready to judge the parade!

Our daughter, Meghan, was able to come with us and we enjoyed the time to reconnect on the 6-hour car ride from our home in Nebraska to the Oklahoma border. We got to town Saturday afternoon with just enough time to check into our room at the Historic Whiting Bed & Bath in downtown Pawhuska and stop by a few of the shops there, including the Tallgrass Art Gallery, Osage Outfitters, and LOREC Ranch Home Furnishings.

Osage Outfitters, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was Ladies’ Night at Osage Outfitters.

The Holiday Lights Parade began just after sundown and it was AMAZING! Cody and Lauren Garnett (owners of the World Famous Buckin’ Flamingo) were the parade emcees and they did a fantastic job introducing each entry and entertaining the crowd with what Steve likes to call “hilarious dad jokes.”

Cody and Lauren Garnett and Reba Bueno, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Lauren Garnett, Reba Bueno, and Cody Garnett prepare to host the parade. We knew Reba was multi-talented, but we didn’t know she was a “gansta wrapper.”

I took pictures and shot video of the parade while Steve and Meg judged the more than 30 entries, each covered in lights and exemplifying the theme of this year’s parade, The Nutcracker.

Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Christmas Parade of Lights.

Filming the Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was fun to share our parade experience “Live” on Facebook.

There were parade entries from businesses, non-profits, and even families who all just love celebrating the season and having a good time.

Christmas Parade of Lights, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Christmas Parade of Lights.

We had a late supper at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile and enjoyed doing a little Christmas shopping during the extended holiday hours that evening.

Christmas Tree, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

One of many trees at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska.

Boots ornament, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This pair of cowboy boots was another of the cute ornaments at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

The Mercantile was beautifully decorated for Christmas, with several well-adorned Christmas trees, each with a different theme. There was one with food and cooking-related ornaments. The mini cinnamon rolls and KitchenAid mixer were a favs of mine.

Cinnamon roll ornaments, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

These cinnamon roll ornaments at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile look good enough to eat.

Another tree had a cowboy/ranch theme and had ornaments with things like cowboy boots, horses, dogs, barns, and John Deere tractors.

Cowboy Santa ornaments, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This cowboy Santa looked great on the ranch-themed Christmas tree at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Christmas dogs, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

These cute pups at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile are a perfect Christmas gift for any dog lover.

When we left The Mercantile, there were still a few shoppers in the streets and looking back at the strings of lights draping from building to building and hearing Christmas music played over a loud speaker downtown, we all felt like we were in the middle of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. I just love Christmas. I love my family. Pass the Kleenex, please.

Kihekah Ave. at Christmas, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Meghan stands on Kihekah Ave. after the parade.

The next day, we ventured outside and found a few local store owners working in their shops. We had a nice visit with the owner of Hair Razors and then spent quite a bit of time talking to the owners of the Book Burrow. The (mostly) used book store is a great addition to downtown Pawhuska and they had so many interesting books on the shelves, along with some antiques and other household items.

Book Burrow books, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The Book Burrow in Pawhuska has a huge selection of used books including these children’s books.

Of course, when in Pawhuska, you MUST stop at Handy’s, so we made our way over to our favorite convenience store to grab a cup of the best soda fountain pop in all of Oklahoma. We loved catching up with one of the owners, Martha, who was excited to tell us that our blog post about Handy’s a few months ago has helped business. She said several groups of people have even come in for a pop, saying they came to Pawhuska just to try the pop!

Martha at Handy's, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

It was nice to have a chance to catch up with Martha at Handy’s.

We spent the afternoon touring the area, as there was still so much we had not seen on previous trips. We drove out to Grayhorse Cemetery and paid our respects to those buried there, many of whom we’d recently read about in the book, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. It is an eye-opening and riveting book, if you haven’t read it. I highly recommend.

We also visited the Shrine of Kateri, the Veteran’s Memorial, and had lunch at Buffalo Joe’s. Later in the day, we attended a worship service with a new church in town and then drove about 20 miles to Woolaroc for the Wonderland of Lights display.

Woolaroc entry at Christmas, Woolaroc, Oklahoma

The Woolaroc Museum was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

The grounds and buildings there were covered in 750,000 lights and it was an absolutely spectacular sight. We enjoyed time in the museum and seeing Frank Phillips’ lodge all decorated for Christmas.

Painting at Woolaroc, Woolaroc, Oklahoma

Woolaroc has many incredible pieces of art.

The next morning, we indulged in breakfast back at The Mercantile. It’s my favorite meal of the day and The Mercantile is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to eat it. Steve got the pancake breakfast this time. He says he thinks they are served with three big scoops of flavored butter to hold them down, as they are so light and fluffy, they might just float away without it.

Pancake breakfast, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

The pancake breakfast at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

I love the farmer’s breakfast which includes eggs, tomatoes, breakfast potatoes, ham, bacon, freshly made sage sausage, and the most amazing, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuit … my mouth is watering just typing this … that I’ve ever had. Oh, and it comes with blackberry jam. Needless to say, I can’t eat the whole thing, but it is nice to try a little bit of everything and there is no need for lunch.

After breakfast, we walked upstairs to the bakery and checked out the cutest gingerbread Mercantile made by the bakers there. It was adorable! It was all edible, with the exception of a tiny string of lights and even included mini Ree and Ladd Drummond characters on a balcony. (We’re told The Mercantile will be adding a similar balcony to the building early next year.)

Pioneer Woman Mercantile gingerbread model, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This gingerbread model of the Mercantile is full of beautiful detail, including a preview of the soon-to-be constructed balcony that will overlook Main St.

We took one more quick stroll through The Mercantile and picked up just a couple more gifts (who can resist the World’s Best Plastic Wrap & Dispenser) and headed down the street to visit a few more businesses.

Plastic wrap dispenser, Pioneer Woman Mercantile, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This plastic wrap dispenser at the Pioneer Woman Mercantile really is the world’s best.

We were so delighted to finally meet, in person, the Trumbly family who own and operate Clifton’s Gift Shop just around the corner from The Mercantile.

Pendleton Blanket, Clifton's Gift Shop, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

We were honored to be given this blanket by Mr. and Mrs. Trumbly of Clifton’s.

We’d spoken with Teresa on the phone and were just honored to spend time with her and her family, hearing about the history of Pawhuska and learning about the Osage Nation. We spent more than an hour visiting and then, Mr. and Mrs. Trumbly presented us a with a generous gift – a beautiful Pendleton blanket. We were so touched by the gift and are honored to display it in our home.

They were also so kind to set up an impromptu meeting for us with Osage Nation Chief Jeffrey M. Standing Bear. After one last stop at the Waterbird Art Gallery, we filled up our drinks at Handy’s and headed home.

Until next time, Pawhuska, thanks for your genuine hospitality.


Have you been to Pawhuska’s Holiday Lights Parade? Tell us about it. We’d love to hear from you. 

 

  • On the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, there is a point where you round a bend and see this view, with the Atlantic Ocean on the left, and the Caribbean Sea on the right. ⁣
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Ann took this photo several years ago when we visited St. Kitts for a day while on a cruise in the Caribbean. ⁣
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We met our friend, Mikey Tross, on the island and with the help of a local driver and guide, we toured the entire island in a day. ⁣
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We climbed to the top of Brimstone Hills, saw the beaches, at at Fredo's (a local restaurant) and toured Caribelle  Batik at Romney Manor. ⁣
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St. Kitts is a beautiful island and the people there are incredibly generous. If you haven't already been there, add St. Kitts to your bucket list.
  • The Grinnell, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce offices are located in a former bank designed by famed architect, Louis Sullivan. The architect built a series of "Jewel Box" banks, called that because they resemble jewel boxes.⁣
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These buildings are intricate in detail and rich in their finishes. The next time you pass near Grinnell, it is definitely worth the stop to step into American architectural history.
  • In downtown Kearney, Nebraska, you'll find @mccuesnebraskataproom, home to all sorts of Nebraska libations. When you visit, you can choose from a large selection of beers, wines, and even liquors all made in Nebraska. It's a fun environment where regulars welcome visitors, and fun is had by all. We look forward to going back one day and know that a visit to McCue's will be a part of our visits to Kearney in the future. ⁣
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@visitnebraska @visitkearney
  • A rite of passage...⁣
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The Swinging Bridge in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has thrilled residents and visitors alike for decades. When it was originally built in 1929, it was the only way to cross from one side of Bird Creek to the other. Today, there are other bridges, but the beloved swinging bridge still spans the creek and dares folks to cross.⁣
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Long-time residents will tell stories of rieding their bikes across it when they were kids--and it should be noted that back then it didn't have the chain link side guards.⁣
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No visit to Pawhuska is complete until you've tried The Pioneer Woman's chicken fried steak AND crossed the swinging bridge. Go ahead and try...we dare you!⁣
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@TravelOK @VisitTheOsage
  • While looking for a coffee shop in @visitkearney, we stumbled into a really cool store. @elevate.people is a locally owned business specializing in both leather goods and in helping people around the world build better lives for themselves. ⁣
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All of the leather goods for sale here are handmade by people in third world countries. Elevate, it turns out, is a non-profit that gives local artisans small, low interest loans to get started in the leather making business. When loans are repaid, the money is loaned out to another craftsperson so they can get started. Meanwhile, Elevate provides access to a market to sell the goods produced so the worker continues to be supported. They also have an online store.⁣
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We have purchased several items from Elevate, and have loved all of them.⁣
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@visitnebraska
  • After a day of tests and appointments at the Mayo Clinic, this was a perfect place to relax and unwind.⁣
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We were treated to a complimentary stay at the brand new Hilton in downtown @minnesotas_rochester. Located near the Mayo Clinic, it's an incredibly beautiful hotel with nothing but the best amenities and top-notch service. One of our favorite places in the hotel is the hot tub in the pool area. How can it not be? Look at this place. And yes, it's as relaxing as it looks, especially at sunset. ⁣
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The room in this new luxury hotel are just as nice. We enjoyed it so much that we changed our travel plans and booked a second night on our own dime. It's our new go-to hotel in Rochester, Minnesota.⁣
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@minnesotas_rochester @exploreminnesota @hiltonhotels
  • Our hosted food tour in @visitkansascityks began with a bar-b-que spread from several local restaurants. Needless to say, we had to sample a little bit of everything because it was for science. We enjoyed ribs, smoked sausage, brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, burnt ends, rice, beans, and even warm potato casserole. ⁣
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If you love bar-b-que, head to KCK. Trust us, you'll love it. Just wear your stretchy pants.
  • Steve writes: When I first set my eyes on the outside of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, I was unimpressed. In fact, I thought it was plain ugly. Construction continued, and I returned several times over the years, each time finding more to like about it. Finally, on a visit with Ann, the inside of the Cathedral was open for a visit. So we went inside.⁣
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Architect Antonin Gaudi's creation is brilliant. The way he uses stained glass to bring color to the stone inside, combined with the shadows created by the shape of the stone is breathtaking. Truly, this cathedral might be the most impressive one I've seen anywhere. This place should be on your bucket list. It's worth a trip to Barcelona to see it.

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