In 1915, working quietly by himself, J.H. “Jack” Haws surprised the residents of Minden on Christmas Eve when he threw the switch and 5,000 beautiful white lights illuminated the Kearney County Courthouse.
The people of Minden were so thrilled by that first simple Christmas display that they embraced the vision of commemorating Christmas with a display of lights each year.
Thus began the tradition of the courthouse lights at Christmas in Minden.
Yet Haws was not satisfied with simple white lights, he wanted color. Colored electric light bulbs had not been perfected in the early 1900s, so Haws went to work experimenting with color solutions to coat the clear bulbs, and for years Haws and his helpers hand-dipped thousands of clear bulbs to make them glow red, green, yellow and blue. Haws, his brother Frank, and others added more streamers of lights and other designs to the courthouse display each year.
On December 7, 1941, a program of Yuletide music was arranged by the choirs of the churches and the high school music department and presented on the west side of the courthouse prior to the turning on of the lights.
That first program, made even more memorable by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, ended with a stirring rendition of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
For more see The Courier