Christmas Caravan, 1935
During the Great Depression 80 downtown Bloomington merchants staged a “Christmas Caravan” promotion to boost holiday retail sales. The vehicle in the background, equipped with a calliope and pulling trailers loaded with prize giveaways, passed through more than 50 Central Illinois communities. The idea was to generate excitement for a promotion involving downtown shoppers receiving gift certificates with each purchase. They could then use these certificates to bid on $1,500 worth of merchandise at gift auctions held at the Bloomington Coliseum on December 21, 23, and 24.
Shown here (left to right) are Sam Willis, A.C. Baldwin, Mark Ethell (shaking hands with the Jolly Old Elf, who is unidentified), Ora Scott, Tom Williams, and Charles R. Haller. The Legionnaires accompanied Santa on the promotional tour. The others are Bloomington businessmen.