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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
Towanda Grade School kindergartners perform Thanksgiving themed poems and songs for their parents the week of Thanksgiving 1980.
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.
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.
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.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church's afternoon kindergarten class enjoyed candied apples among other treats during this Halloween Day 1939 party.
A Depression-era tradition in Bloomington was the annual Halloween Mardi Gras parade and street dance. Seen here from the parade of October 31, 1938, is Little Bo Peep played by Joe Raycraft.
The Jefferson School PTA held an all-family Halloween party on October 28, 1957. Seen here are prize winners for the prettiest, most original, and ugliest costumes. The ballerina (prettiest) is Susan Anderson, the robot (most original) Allan Swartz, and the farmer (ugliest) Carolyn Hirsch.
“Buy American—Save the USA” was the theme for the September 2, 1985, Labor Day parade.
Bloomington’s first Labor Day parade was held on September 7, 1891, three years before the day became a national holiday. This parade float, dating to sometime around 1920, is the handiwork of the International Brotherhood of Blacksmiths and Helpers Local 79. This local represented blacksmiths at the Chicago & Alton Railroad Shops on the city’s west side.
Fourth of July fireworks at Bloomington’s Miller Park have been a local holiday tradition for several generations...
Local Girl Scouts hoist Old Glory at Forrest Park in south Bloomington in preparation for Flag Day 1948. Running the Stars and Stripes is Mary Jane Anderson, assisted by Joanie Magirl. In the background (left to right) are Karen Figg, Carole Colteaux, and Peggy Bennington. Happy Flag Day from the Museum!
Founded after World War I, American Gold Star Mothers consists of mothers who have lost a son or daughter to military service. Seen here are local Gold Star members from the Evergreen chapter in Bloomington.
Robert R. “Bob” Neal salutes a fallen veteran at Bloomington’s Park Hill Cemetery, Memorial Day 1982. Bob served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was a veteran of the Korean War.
In the week before Christmas 1958, Santa Claus paid a visit to Bloomington’s Forest Park to inspect the local reindeer stock. But Old St. Nick found his attention monopolized by a nosy llama.