Well, it all started in the dimmest, foggiest, earliest reaches of humanity's beginnings when it was discovered (shortly after fire was discovered, which naturally led to the discovery of the neighborhood barbecue) that afternoon naps were good. Thus started the tradition of "sleeping." People have been sleeping ever since, starting with "sleeping out" as "in" hadn't been invented yet.
Oh... You mean the history of the SIOUXLAND Sleep Out? Oh. Okay.
Way back in 2005, a bunch of hearty individuals grouped together to go sleep out in the park. In late November. In Iowa. Yes, it was cold. Very, very cold. Why would they do such a silly thing? Why, oh why?
Simple. They wanted to raise money for the homeless in Siouxland, and this was the most in-tents method they could think of.
The Siouxland Sleep Out started then, when a few hearty souls braved the freezing weather to earn nearly $20,000 in pledges, which went (of course) directly to programs to help the homeless.
Surprisingly enough, two musicians brought their guitars out into the cold, entertaining the frigid folk gathered around the firepits. It was decided that more fire pits were needed. And hot chocolate.
In 2006 the tradition continued, just a bit larger. A little over 250 people took pledges for months before the November event, bringing in some $40,000, and nearly 600 pounds of canned food.
The day of the Sleep Out was WINDY. Cold and windy. Windy and cold. But people came, pledge money in hand... There were several youth groups in attendance (one group putting up an entire cardboard village), the Iowa Army National Guard put up a couple big Army tents for people to use, and the two musicians from 2005 even showed up again, with a couple friends!
It was again decided that more firepits were needed. And more hot chocolate. We will gladly take donations of hot chocolate. Please.
It wasn't such a bad day in 2007. In fact, it was a pretty nice day to be outside. A feller could get by with a hefty sweater for most of the day, but it DID get pretty chilly that night, following a spectacular sunset. We listened to the band for a while, had some hot chocolate... The Iowa Army National Guard put up some of their big tents again, which was way cool indeed.
I'm not sure how many groups were represented, but there were church members, bikers (American Legion Riders), mental health professionals, civic leaders, dogs, youth groups - quite a cross-section of Siouxland society, all gathered for a common cause! At least one birthday cake was eaten at the ball field. Probably with hot chocolate. We go through a lot of hot chocolate.
Most important, though, was that the Sleep Out had 350 participants and brought in nearly $50,000 for area homeless projects. Hey, ya wanna feel good about yourself? Be involved in something as cool as that!
This year was the coldest, windiest, nastiest Sleep-Out on record.
It was miserable.
Many hearty souls came out for the Sleep-Out. Not quite as many slept in the park... Temps in the low 30's and winds also in the low 30's kept most participants huddled under the bleachers. The band didn't show up that year. Wussies.
It's hard to imagine how the truly homeless can cope!
The morning of November 6th dawned bright and sunny. By mid-afternoon the temps were VERY nice... One guy even came to help set up on a motorcycle. By 5:30 the band was set up and ready to go. The silent auction was a hit. The night was cool, but not cold by any means. It was a wonderful event!
2010's event was, again, blessed with surprisingly good weather. Good food, good music, and a surprisingly inventive showing of cardboard box shelters marked the day as one of the bestest ever!
There seems to be a trend - every year the Siouxland Sleepout gets a little bigger, a little better, a little more fun!