Tinsel, lights and an elf

Ringland-Smeltzer House is decorated for Christmas

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Drew Sieben, of Fort Dodge, holds onto the end of a long garland Saturday morning while helping to decorate the Ringland-Smeltzer House for Christmas.

Roman Emperor Caracalla got some unexpected company Saturday as a crew of volunteers decorated the Ringland-Smeltzer House for Christmas.

Or at least his statue did. It will get to spend the season visiting with an elf that’s now perched on the emperor’s shoulder.

Ludwig van Beethoven, of “Fifth Symphony” fame, fared a little better — his bust got a garland and glass balls around its base.

Neither it should be noted, looked very happy about it.

While the statuary may not have appreciated the festive mood, the volunteers doing the decorating did.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Deanna Rhiner, of Fort Dodge, puts decorations on the tree Saturday morning at the Ringland-Smeltzer House. She was one of about a dozen volunteers who decorated the home for Christmas.

Among those was Breah Ewing, of Fort Dodge.

“I’ve been doing this for five years,” she said while coaxing a string of lit lights onto a fireplace mantle, “I really enjoy coming down here.”

While decorating at her own home is still weeks away, seeing the house decorated put her in a great mood.

“I really enjoy the atmosphere of the home,” she said. “I love seeing it all come together.”

First-time decorating volunteer Deanna Rhiner, of Fort Dodge, had seen the call for volunteers on social media.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Carol Sieben, at left, along with Kathy Hulsebus, both of Fort Dodge, deal with one end of their string of lights suddenly going dark Satuday morning as they worked to put up Christmas decorations at the Ringland-Smeltzer House. The problem was a loose plug.

“I said to myself, well, I can do that,” she said.

She spent much of the morning perched on a ladder in the living room putting ornaments on the tree. It’s too tall for anyone not in the NBA to reach the top.

Her own decorating is up in the air this year.

“It’s too early,” she said. “We have a great-grandchild on the way so the whole month is on hold.”

Carol Sieben and Kathy Hulsebus were working on decorating a built-in shelf behind the living room’s grand piano. The decoration — a long string of gold painted vines — was giving them trouble. It seemed to have a mind of its own and simply did not want to go where they wanted it to go.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Breah Ewing, of Fort Dodge, works on getting the decorations on the dining room fireplace mantle just right Saturday morning at the Ringland-Smeltzer House in Fort Dodge.

“You forget from year to year what it’s going to do,” Sieben said.

Then the light string died, or at least one half of it.

“Check the plug,” Sieben said.

That worked and so did the photographic guidelines everyone had on hand to work with. In previous years, a picture had been taken of the decor and then the prints, stored with the decorations.

“They’re to help remember, nobody’s going to remember otherwise,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The Roman Emperor Caracalla (198-217) meets an elf Saturday as volunteers decorate the Ringland-Smeltzer House for Christmas.

Bill Griffel, president of the board of trustees, was a busy man Saturday as he coordinated the volunteer’s work.

He was happy with the response to the social media posting.

“We got five or six volunteers that gave up part of their Saturday to help decorate,” he said.

The public will be able to see the Christmas decor during the Ringland-Smeltzer House open house from 2-5 p.m. on Dec. 8.