200 North Main Street | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

#Holiday

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Santa and His Six (?) Reindeer Bloomington Christmas Parade, 1929

Christmas parade, 1929.

The December 3, 1929 Christmas parade in Bloomington featured Santa Claus, six marching bands, a drum corps, and eleven floats, among many other attractions. Mr. Claus is seen here out front, his sleigh pulled by six reindeer.

Read more…

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Corny Christmas Contest, 1934 Guess the Number of Kernels

Corn guessing contest, 1934.

Back in December 1934, the Bloomington Association of Commerce (now the McLean County Chamber of Commerce) staged a “corny” promotion to boost downtown holiday retail sales. The approximately 58-by-13 inch glass container shown here was filled with two bushels of shelled corn. With every downtown retail purchase of 25 cents or more, Bloomington shoppers would receive a slip of paper to write down their guess, with the closest to the correct total receiving a $200 cash prize. Remarkably, four area residents correctly guessed that there were 212,792 grains in this container!

Read more…

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Ho ho ho Livingston’s Santas, 1940s

Linvingston's Christmas Santa, 1940s.

From the 1940s to the mid-1970s, A. Livingston & Sons in downtown Bloomington hoisted two giants Santas onto its overhang for the holiday season. The two identical Santas (only one is shown here) were about 13 feet in height and likely made of some early plastic or fiberglass material. Livingston’s was a locally owned department store on the south side of the Courthouse Square.

Read more…

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Bah, humbug! Fred Hitch as Scrooge, 1926

Christmas Scrooge, 1926.

From this 1926 publicity still we’d have to say Bloomington’s Fred Hitch captured the essence of the character Charles Dickens described as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!” From the mid-1920s into the 1990s, the Scottish Rite Temple (now the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts) staged a version of the “A Christmas Carol.”

Read more…

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

A. Livingston & Sons Christmas 1930s

Livingston's Christmas shopping, 1930s.

We’re not sure this photograph was taken on a “Black Friday” sometime in the 1930s, but it sure looks like it! Seen here is an undated photograph of the main floor of the locally owned department store, A. Livingston & Sons, during a Christmas season in the 1930s. Livingston’s, located on the south side of the Courthouse Square, closed in 1979.

Read more…

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G 1980 Towanda Grade School

Thanksgiving grade school play, 1980.

Towanda Grade School kindergartners perform Thanksgiving themed poems and songs for their parents the week of Thanksgiving 1980.

Read more…

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Veterans Day, 1958 McLean County Courthouse Lawn

Veterans Day, 1958.

Veterans Day ceremonies have been held on the lawn of the old McLean County Courthouse (now the McLean County Museum of History) for as long as most folks can remember. Seen here is five-year-old Becky McCormick of Charleston, IL, who was here on a visit.

Read more…

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Happy Halloween! Jefferson School, Bloomington, 1957

Halloween costumes, 1957.

James and Evora Ross, pictured here with their four-year-old daughter Janet, chaired the all-family Jefferson School PTA Halloween party back on October 28, 1957.

Read more…

Written by Tod Eagleton in Collection Highlights

Halloween Traditions

These place cards were among many Halloween party favors found in 2009 residing in a wicker trunk in the attic of the Lewis Green Stevenson House at 1316 E. Washington Street in Bloomington.

Although there are several theories regarding the origin of Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, its roots can be traced back to the ancient Celts of Ireland and Northern England. The Celtic New Year begins on November 1st and the festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-win”) is celebrated on October 31st to mark the end of harvest and the beginning of winter.

Read more…

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Halloween Party, 1939 Holy Trinity Parish Kindergarten, Bloomington

Holy Trinity Parish Halloween party, 1939.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church's afternoon kindergarten class enjoyed candied apples among other treats during this Halloween Day 1939 party.

Read more…