SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In a city lit up as far as the eye can see, there’s a bright beacon of the holiday season that stands out.
“Oh, it’s a big deal,” Former Vice President of Operations for Midcontinent Media Joe H. Floyd said.
Joe H. Floyd isn’t sure what year the Holideck came to be, but he thinks the lights were installed on the tower around 1960.
That’s back when his father and KELO-TV founder Joe L. Floyd called the shots.
“My dad saw television as a stage show in your living room. He had a totally different view of what TV was all about. Instead of playing to an audience, it was actually about having the audience come into your stage,” Floyd said.
The younger Floyd decided to build a new tower in the 70s, but he did not plan on stringing bulbs on its trusses.
“The tower was delivered to the site. The foundation was poured, and I said to my wife, ‘You know it’s been two years since I’ve had a vacation. This would be a good time to take a vacation.’ So we took off and went to Florida for two weeks. Came back, the tower was up and the lights were on it,” Floyd said.
He decided to get to the bottom of it.
“I said, ‘Who put the lights on?’ Well, he said your dad came out and said, ‘Put the lights on the tower,”’ Floyd said.
The rest is history.
“I cannot think of a time they were not turned on during the holiday season,” Floyd said.
To this day, a crew still inspects the lights before they’re lit.
KELOLAND Media Group Chief Engineer Brian Baier estimates the 200-foot tower holds about 800 bulbs that help illuminate the sky each holiday season.
“When that comes on, there’s people that have been waiting all year to see it. To see it every night when they come on, you’re coming into the downtown area and it’s the thing that stands out the most,” Baier said.
Each year, a familiar face flips the switch on live television, turning on the Holideck and signaling the start of Christmastime.
“We always have a lighting ceremony. It’s highly promoted on the television station. And it’s become a part of our downtown culture,” Floyd said.
And it’s an important part of KELOLAND.
“I’m an engineer by trade. To me I saw it as a load on the tower, but we did it because it was something that was supposed to be done,” Floyd said.
Volk: What do you think your father would say about the lights today?
Floyd: Turn them on!
It’s hard to miss the festive Holideck when you travel through downtown Sioux Falls, but perhaps the real reason it stands out is because of what it represents, the pioneers who lit the way to a legacy.
Be sure to tune in for KELOLAND News at 5 p.m. on Friday as we light the Holideck ahead of the Parade of Lights.