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Lighted tour of homes an early Christmas gift for many transit riders

  • Charles City transit drivers, Santa, along with Circle K owners, Dan and Tammy Elthon, get ready to begin the Christmas caravan of buses on the lighted holiday tour of homes in Charles City on Tuesday evening. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Transit driver Rhonda Liboy (left) sits on the transit holiday tour of homes bus with Rose Wagner. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Transit riders got to see many homes in the area that were decorated with the holiday spirit in mind. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Transit riders got to see many homes in the area that were decorated with the holiday spirit in mind. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Transit riders enjoy the holiday lighted tour of homes in Charles City on Tuesday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Jimmya Heavens (left), Carmela Bruce (middle) and Chariya Heavens (right) enjoy the holiday lighted tour of homes on Tuesday in Charles City. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Circle K owner, Tammy Elthon, talks with Santa at a pit stop on the holiday lighted tour of homes in Charles City on Tuesday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Santa hands out candy canes on the four transit buses that were used on the holiday lighted tour of homes in Charles City on Tuesday. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

  • Transit riders got to see many homes in the area that were decorated with the holiday spirit in mind. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra

By Kelly Terpstra, kterpstra@charlescitypress.com

There was no shiny wrapping paper to tear into and not a bow in sight, but this Christmas present was one many residents of Charles City won’t soon forget.

Some were new, some were young and some were old, but all on board seemed to have a good time as the Charles City Transit system took its passengers on another holiday tour of lighted homes in the area on Tuesday evening.

Rhonda Liboy, who has been a bus driver for the transit system for five months, said many of her riders couldn’t wait to hop on the bus to witness the intricate and ornate lights strewn across yards and rooftops of many homes on the tour.

“Matter of fact, that’s all they’ve talked about all week,” said Liboy.

Santa Claus even handed out candy canes while passengers were signing in unison to holiday jingles that seemed to dance their way out of the buses’ speakers while the Christmas caravan merrily rolled along city streets.

“Some of the houses were really decorated beautifully. I’m sure it took hours and hours to put them up,” said Goldie Jordan.

Jordan, 94, said she uses the transit system to go to the senior center in town and get her hair done. Jordan moved to Charles City from South Bend, Indiana, in 1958 along with her husband, who took a job at the Oliver plant. She’s lived here ever since.

Jordan was thankful to be able to ride along with fellow passengers on the lighted tour and to take part in the joyous and spirited holiday mood.

“I didn’t even know they’d been doing this. I would have done it last year then, too,” said Jordan.

Thinking she might have been the oldest passenger on the caravan, Jordan was informed that she, in fact, was not. Former Charles City Attorney Jim Smith, 96, was said to have been on one of the other buses happily singing along to Christmas music while enjoying the ride.

“Well, I said on this bus,” Jordan laughed, about being the eldest rider.

This Christmas gift was a thank-you from Circle K Communications to its regular passengers.

Circle K Communications, owned by Dan and Tammy Elthon, partnered with the city, Floyd County and NIACOG (North Iowa Area Council of Governments) to help run the public transportation system last year.

The Elthons and the transit’s crew of drivers came up with the idea during the holiday season last winter to reward regular transit riders with a holiday lighted tour of homes.

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