Thumbs up to the return of the Kiwanis Holiday Lights after it had to be canceled last year.

Organizer Scott Wojcik, Kiwanis members and a crew of 1,000 volunteers are already going through the lights and displays in preparation for turning Sibley Park into a wonderland of lights, displays, music and more.

The event, which started in 2012, draws some 150,000 visitors who walk or drive through the park each year, starting on Nov. 26.

Visitors this year will be able to enjoy new lights as well as repainted and repaired displays — something that volunteers were able to do during a year off from putting up and taking down the massive displays.

Local food shelves get thousands of pounds of donations through collections during the event. Nonprofits whose members volunteer at the event also receive a share of the cash donations collected.

The Kiwanis Holiday Lights has become a signature event for the Mankato area, and visitors will no doubt find added joy in being able to visit it this year.

Sinema obstruction

Thumbs down to Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona for unwarranted obstruction of everything Democrats and President Joe Biden are trying to do with plans for leveling the playing field for the middle class.

She has opposed major portions of Biden’s plan that would expand child tax credits, offer more Medicare benefits and help subsidize day care costs.

Sinema has opposed, without compromise, Biden’s plan to help pay for the plan with an increase in corporate taxes from 21% to 25% or 28%. She also opposes tax rate increases for people making over $400,000 a year.

In a sign that her obstinance is affecting even her own supporters, five military veterans on her advisory board resigned last week, saying she is not standing for constituents but only her big corporate donors.

They called her the primary obstacle to passing the Voting Rights Act and Biden’s Build Back Better plan, voting on the Jan. 6 commission and lowering prescription drug prices through drug-company negotiation.

In a letter to Sinema the veterans wrote: “You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people. We shouldn’t have to buy representation from you, and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming.”

With friends like Sinema, Biden doesn’t need enemies.

Texas Holocaust

Thumbs down to the Texas Carroll Independent School District school executive director of curriculum and instruction, who advised teachers to offer opposing and “other perspectives” while teaching about the Holocaust.

In a recording obtained by NBC News, Gina Peddy told teachers the Texas House Bill 3979 required them to offer “alternative information” when it “comes to widely debated and currently controversial” issues.

Apparently, she thinks the Holocaust was some kind of political dispute.

“Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing — that has other perspectives,” Peddy said.

It’s hard to imagine two sides to an issue where six million Jews were killed in state-sponsored genocide.

But as we have seen with myriad other issues, any crazy thing is possible in Texas.

Minneopa newsletter

Thumbs up to Minneopa Park and its park naturalist Scott Kudelka for each week bringing the beauty and changes of the park to people far and wide.

Kudelka has long compiled and emailed a weekly newsletter, filled with photos and tidbits. The newsletter records information about the most famous component of the park — the bison — but also provides small tidbits about things like what wildflowers are blooming, how the leaves are changing color and what progress park staff and volunteers are making on removing invasive vegetation.

A regular contributor to the newsletter is Tim Pulis, a longtime champion of the park and member of the Friends of Minneopa. Pulis has a deep knowledge of the park’s history and can be found most Saturdays at the park, answering visitors’ questions about the bison herd and park.

The newsletter has gained statewide attention following a recent story in the Star Tribune. The unique weekly glimpse into a premiere state park deserves the attention and appreciation.

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