Friday, December 21, 2012

Flashback Friday: 1927 Christmas parade

Schuster’s Department Store sponsored Milwaukee’s annual Christmas Parade on the streets of downtown Milwaukee using flatcars on the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co. (TMER&L) rail lines at the start of the parade route.

The seven-mile parade became a Milwaukee tradition. Santa Claus and his six reindeer were the main attractions. More than 300,000 gathered to see the parade every year. Schuster's created a character known as Billie the Brownie to promote the event.

The photo at right was taken in 1927. TMER&L was one of our predecessor companies, which  later changed its name to Wisconsin Electric Power Co. -- now doing business as We Energies.

Related information:

The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transit Historical Society has a history of TMER&L on its website.

In 2009, the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend  hosted the Worlds of Wonder: Armin O. Hansen's Festive Float Designs exhibit. For 31 years, Hansen was the designer of the parade's floats. You can learn more about the parade and its floats in this 10-minute WUWM podcast produced to promote the exhibit:

In 2011, published a Michael Lisicky interview. Lisicky is author of a book about Milwaukee's Downtown shopping culture, "Gimbels Has It!"

In 2012, published a Paul Geenen interview about "Schuster's & Gimbels: Milwaukee's Beloved Department Stores,"a paperback covering the merger of the two companies.

In 2012, Dave Begel of published a column about Billie the Brownie.

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