On December 10, 1961, McHenry Held its first Christmas Parade. Sponsored by the city’s Chamber of Commerce, the idea was to celebrate the holiday season as well as drum up sales for local businesses. The McHenry COC also sponsored the Fiesta Day Parade, Play Day as well as the Dollar Day. Just like today, businesses would have special offerings to help with holiday sales. For instance, many would stay open late throughout the last two weeks of December. A special promotion that was established to coincide with the parade was a drawing for $250 worth of merchandise and services among different McHenry merchants. Many familiar names were on the list, Justen Furniture, Lee & Ray Electric, McGee’s Store for Men among others.
The parade started at 1pm at the train station, went east on Main Street, north on Green Street, north on Riverside Drive and finished at the city park. Several businesses and organizations provided decorative floats for the parade that was described as “long and colorful.” Some of the themes of the floats were the Good Ship Lollipop, Merry Christmas from the Circus and the Nativity Scene.
Also involved were various performing groups. Leading the parade was the high school Viscounts Drum and Bugle Corp. The Viscounts, who were sponsored by the American Legion, were a highly decorated group that competed throughout the country. Earlier in the year, the Viscounts won the National Sons of the American Legion competition in Denver, Colorado. They were joined by the Vikettes, the newly formed color guard also sponsored by the American Legion. Rounding out the performers, were the Red Devils, the high school and city band. The guest of honor was Santa Claus himself. Kris Kringle went from the parade to Ernie’s Sport Center, which was located next to the old theatre on Green Street. The parade was a huge success with over 4,000 people coming in to watch the event. The tradition was set, and the parade became an annual event for many years to come.
“4000 Witness Christmas Parade.” McHenry Plaindealer 14 Dec 1961: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 26 Nov 2017.
“Chamber of Commerce Revue Activities.” McHenry Plaindealer 28 Dec 1961: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 26 Nov 2017.
“COC Will Hold Colorful Line Of March.” McHenry Plaindealer 7 Dec 1961: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 26 Nov 2017.
“McHenry Parade Sunday Greets Santa.” Daily Sentinal (Woodstock) 8 Dec 1961: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 26 Nov 2017.
“Viscounts Corp Wins Famous Cleveland Trophy.” McHenry Plaindealer 7 Dec 1961: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 26 Nov 2017.