World-Herald archive photos tell the stories of holiday displays and traditions of yesteryear.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Frosty Eye

Dec. 17, 1970: Anne Pane, 5, and Sean Kenny, 4, give Santa and his "Frosty Family" friends the eye. The Christmas pinatas were made by the children and teachers at Kinder-Haven West preschool at the Westwood Heights United Methodist Church. The 3- to 5-year-old children gave the Santa piñata to the Nebraska Children's Home Society. The other pinatas were used for their own Christmas Program. ROBERT PASKACH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Woodmen of the World Rejoice

Dec. 16, 1950: Tenants of the Woodmen of the World Building are furnishing their own Christmas carols this year. Each noon until Christmas a different group will sing in the lobby. Leading off Friday were employees of Nebraska Federal Housing Administration office, whose director, Holger Holm, is at the right. MARTIN KOTRBA/THE WORLD-HERALD

Trees, Trees, and More Trees

Nov. 25, 1968 (left): The annual moment of decision is approaching for thousand of Midlands families – what type of Christmas tree to buy. They come in at least seven varieties, fir or pine trees shaped and flocked, if desired. Studying the selection at a lot at 4103 Leavenworth is Pat Nitzel, 4. The salesman is Sam Monaco. ROBERT PASKACH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Nov. 9, 1972: Harry Mindrup adjusts a tree on a light near 16th and Farnam Streets. Mindrup is an electrician for Wallin Electric Co. RICHARD JANDA/THE WORLD-HERALD

Greetings From Above

Dec. 22, 1971: "We figured the sign on the bucket swinging high over the street helps spread Christmas cheer farther," said two Omaha Public Power District linemen. They are Ed Dragon and Joe Benak. OPPD foreman Jack Proctor said the crew is using a bucket crane to replace lines from 72nd and Pacific to Fourth and Jones Streets.

Westroads Shoppers Wait for Santa Claus

Nov. 27, 1970: The 1970 Christmas shopping season was officially underway and large crowds began to fill Omaha's shopping areas. The shoppers shown here filled Westroads Shopping Center's Central Park to await the arrival of Santa Claus. Omaha merchants continued to stick to their predictions that Christmas sales this year would set records.

You'd Better Watch Out

Dec. 18, 1958 (left): If the buying tempo of the last few days is maintained, Omaha will have its biggest Christmas shopping season in history. That was the statement George Wruck, general manager of the Associated Retailers of Omaha. Shown is part of a huge crowd of Omahans who were doing their shopping Tuesday. PAT HALL/THE WORLD-HERALD

Nov. 21, 1976: Archive holiday decorations The Fantasy of Trees, a benefit for the YWCA. Pictured is a papier mache "Moon Man" ornament from an old Bohemian legend that the "bogeyman" lived in the moon and would eat children who were bad before Christmas.

A Winning Number

Nov. 13, 1953: Bobbitt Moulding and Frame won best in smaller store grouping in the annual Night of Christmas Windows in downtown Omaha. Five-year-old Kathy Johnson helped them win by appearing in the tableau.

Traffic Jam

Nov. 17, 1966: A traffic jam at 16th and Douglas. The Shrine parade contributed to the shoppers tangle. RICHARD JANDA/THE WORLD-HERALD

Police Arrest Youths Full of Cheer

Dec. 8, 1969 (left): Santa Claus and his old buddy Frosty the Snowman were in custody Monday. Don't worry, kiddies, they're being held as material witnesses and not as suspects in a crime. The two were in the company of a pair of 18-year-olds filled with Christmas cheer when private policemen arrested the youths. Santa and Frosty are a pair of 4-foot-high electric Christmas decorations. Also in the car with the two males were a pair of electric candles. Two agents for Wells Fargo Protective services Inc. found them late Saturday night in the Regency Manor development under construction northeast of Interstate 680 and Pacific Street. Deputy sheriffs said the two 18-year-olds admitted stealing the decorations but couldn't remember where. They were booked for public intoxication and released on $200 bond while deputies Monday looked for the theft victims. JAMES IVEY/THE WORLD-HERALD

Nov. 28, 1970: Christmas lights looking south on 16th Street from the roof of the Hilton Hotel. SEBI BRECI/THE WORLD-HERALD

Standing Guard

Dec. 7, 1977: The magic of Christmas shines brightly in downtown Omaha on even the darkest evenings of the year. Like graceful sentinels, the trees stand guard over the stores and street corners. The lights are provided by Downtown Omaha Inc. SEBI BRECI/THE WORLD-HERALD

Downtown, 1956

1966: Omaha downtown Christmas scene. EARLE BUNKER/THE WORLD-HERALD

The Tale of Two Santas

Dec. 8, 1960 (left): About 200 children gathered around Mr. and Mrs. Claus and sang carols during the annual police Christmas party at the Fraternal Oder of Police Hall. Dona Benak (Mrs. Claus), president of the ladies auxiliary of the FOP, her daughter Kathy, 4, on her lap, and Foster "Bud" Burchard (Santa) led the singing. SEBI BRECI/THE WORLD-HERALD

Dec. 20, 1965: Frank Barr (aka Santa Claus) had a secret intercom system wired into his living room from a Santa Claus wired for sound on his lawn at 3604 Olin Ave. He would speak to the children who approached it and listen to the children's requests.

Mason School Pupils Sing Carols at Joslyn Castle

Dec. 14, 1944: Christmas cheer echoed through the school headquarters in Joslyn Castle when 83 Mason School carolers offered "The First Noel," "I Head the Bells on Christmas Day," "Away in a Manger," and "O Come All Ye Faithful," Mrs. Doris Cosford directed the singing, which Supertendent Hobart M. Corning said "had caused a great appreciated of the Christmas spirit."

Tree of Lights Glowing

Nov. 30, 1971: For a few moments, all 550 lights on the Salvation Army Tree of Lights blazed as officials kicked off a drive to raise $55,000 to make Christmas happier for Omaha's needy. But, officials said, it will take the generosity of many to make the tree – and Christmas – really "light up" for the hundreds of unfortunate persons who benefit from the annual drive. Among those participating in ceremonies on the courthouse lawn was Mayor Leahy, who took a brief turn as a bell ringer and gathered contributions from construction workers at the new Nebraska Savings and Loan Association building across the street. As members of the Omaha Harmonizers, a women's choral group, sang Christmas carols, the mayor volunteer to "get the guys up there to throw us some money."
"If you throw us a quarter apiece down here, we'll have another song," he yelled, and several workers responded by tossing coins. In a more serious vein, Leahy called on Omahans to "be generous" in their contributions to the drive. Such gifts will help show the "we can take care of social problems in our community," he said. EILEEN WORTH/THE WORLD-HERALD

75 Pounds of Tinsel

Dec. 17, 1957 (left): Eleanor Anne Wah, of Kimball, Nebraska, is awed by the 42 1/2-foot Oregon fir at Union Station. The tree bears 450 lights and 75 pounds of tinsel.

Dec. 25, 1960: Larry Cooper and Kirby Williams with a new sled for Christmas, no snow and the ice melting at Lake Manawa. ED RATH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Benson, 1952

Dec. 4, 1952: Christmas lights and decorations in Benson, looking west from 59th and Military.


Late 1940s: Children ride the Christmas train at Omaha's Brandeis Department Store. For most of the 20th Century, SantaLand was a favorite feature of the J.L. Brandeis & Sons department store experience for children during the Christmas season. The 10-story Brandeis flagship store at 16th and Douglas Streets was a retail landmark in Omaha until it closed in 1980.


Dec. 15, 1971 (left): Jerry Swartz, 17, provided the oompah-pah on the tuba Wednesday as the Benson German Band got together at the Mimmi Park to play Christmas carols. The other music makers are, from left: Kitty Aipperspach, 18; Curt Johnson, 17; John Scott, 17; Tony Aipperspach, 17; Jim Young, 16; and Martin Cobb, 17. TOM PLAMBECK/THE WORLD-HERALD

Undated: As the holiday season approaches, decorations go up high above Omaha streets. At 16th and Dodge Streets employees of Wallin Electric Com. put up more than 70 candle-and-wreath displays for the Downtown Promotion Committee of the Associated Retailers. George Wruck, Retailers manager, said the decorations will be lighted at 7:30 p.m. the evening after Thanksgiving, with the usual ceremony planned in front of the Regis Hotel. He said the Retailers board adopted a resolution asking shopping centers not to light their decorations until that time.

Omaha's prettiest display ' since before World War II'

Nov. 29, 1950: Omaha's prettiest downtown Christmas lighting display since before World War II is thrilling visitors and shoppers nightly. This photo is looking south on 15th Street from Douglas Street and shows the lines of lights strung across the street, and the big red plastic bells that make the display so striking. The project was financed by merchants who contributed to fund drive sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. The cost of the layout came close to $22,000.

Southroads' Peppermint Lane

Dec. 23, 1973: Santa waves to Brenda Rothe, 2, as he whizzes by her in his gift-loaded train on Peppermint Lane at the Southroads. SEBI BRECI/THE WORLD-HERALD

Grinch Village

Nov. 25, 1979 (left): Jamie Endelman, 2 1/2, reaches for the decorations at the Grinch Village at the Brandeis Department Store. JAMES R. BURNETT/THE WORLD-HERALD

Dec. 17, 1957: "Happy Santa" beams at passers-by from the south side of the Insurance building (also called the Bee Building) at 17th and Farnam Streets.

Christmas Lights Add Glitter to South Omaha

Dec. 19, 1957: There is glitter and evergreen along 24th Street in South Omaha these days. The South Omaha Merchants Association sponsors the decoration of the business district annually. To make the holiday theme complete, a sound truck carrying Santa Claus and happy kids cruises the district, beaming out carols.

Season's Greetings

Dec. 2, 1977: A giant talking doll, Brandy, greeted visitors at the Brandeis Department Store's SantaLand. Seen here are Mrs. Pearl Barnhouse with grandchildren Robert Winger, 5, and Jennifer Winger, 3.

The Benson Lions Tree Goes Up

Nov. 29, 1958 (left): Santa Claus helps Mayor Rosenblatt throw the switch to turn on the Christmas lights on downtown streets. The Santa is Harry Edward. The switch was in front of the Regis Hotel at 16th and Harney Streets.

Nov. 30, 1967: It's an old tradition for the Benson Lions Club. From left, Dean Pancoast, Martin Jensen and Frank Grund helped set up the club's Christmas Tree in the heart of the community at 62nd & Maple Streets. The tree is more than 20 feet high.

'Virgin and Child'

Nov. 26, 1955: Beautiful windows and decorated streets mark the opening of the Christmas month in Omaha. "Virgin and child" spotlighted in the Herzberg's window won the large store prize.

Downtown, 1974

Nov. 22, 1974: Christmas lights in downtown Omaha. TOM PLAMBECK/THE WORLD-HERALD

Rain Delay

Jan. 27, 1973 (left): After two months, six days and a few feet of snow and rain, downtown Omaha's Christmas decorations were being put to rest. Looking south on Dodge, crews unwind the gold garlands and take down the artificial trees and lights from the intersection. RUDY SMITH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Dec. 7, 1973: Ron Busboom, manager of Hinky-Dinky Store at 7110 Dodge St., selects a tree for Corey Edwards, 3 and Calvin Jones, 3. ROBERT PASKACH/THE WORLD-HERALD

Downtown, 1973

Dec. 17, 1973: The southeast corner of 16th and Harney Streets at 6 p.m. Edwards Jewelers had all the lights turned on; employees gone. Lerner's sign turned on; display window lights off. SEBI BRECI/THE WORLD-HERALD

Lighting Up Downtown

Nov. 22, 1957: Illuminated decorations were turned on downtown on Thursday night. This view, looking from 16th and Douglas Streets, shows the streamers, electrically lit poinsettias and plastic snowmen. The poinsettias, 31 of them, are new this year. JAMES BREELING/THE WORLD-HERALD

Decorations New and Old

Nov. 25, 1969 (left): More than 8,500 persons watched Mayor Leahy flip the switch turning on the new Christmas decorations to usher in the 1969 holiday season downtown. The new decorations were financed by Downtown Omaha Inc. and downtown businessmen at a cost of more than $33,000. Shown is 16th and Douglas Streets. RICHARD JANDA/THE WORLD-HERALD

Dec. 10, 1959: For the 37th consecutive year, Omaha attorney Charles S. Read, right, and Simon Herrold, head waiter for the Chamber of Commerce, have teamed to help decorate the tree for the Chamber's annual Christmas party. The chamber's Good Fellowship Club puts up the 25-foot tree.

A Busy Downtown

Dec. 19, 1965: Shopping bags and Christmas spirit on the crosswalks of downtown Omaha.

Yule Shopping Season is Open for Business

Nov. 26, 1960: A glittering array of Christmas lights was turned on in downtown Omaha on Friday night, signaling the official opening of the yule shopping season. City Councilman Warren Swiggart, representing Mayor Rosenblatt, and Ak-Sar-Ben Queen Lisbeth Cherniack threw the switch. There are nearly 6,000 lights on 70 poles, but the lights on several poles failed to come on because of short circuits. This picture looks south across 16th and Douglas. KEN ZIMMERMAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

Courthouse Noon Tune Christmasy

Dec. 20, 1969 (left): Pedestrians alighting from the elevator in the rotunda at the Courthouse Friday noon were confronted by a pleasing sight and sound – 29 members of the Notre Dame Academy Girls Choir presenting a program of Christmas music. The girls gathered to sing in front of a 60-foot Christmas tree. The choir was directed by Sister Mary Louis.

Nov. 13, 1971: Wallin Electric Company workers Roy Sherman, left, Paul Jaksich and Harry Mindrup install greenery and candy canes at 15th and Dodge Streets. The downtown lighting ceremony will feature a preview of Disney on Parade program scheduled at the City Auditorium in December. PHIL JOHNSON/THE WORLD-HERALD

An Old Fashioned Nebraska Holiday

Nov. 26, 1955: The Berg Clothing Store Christmas window: "An Old Fashioned Nebraska Holiday," located at 419-412 S. 16th St.

Downtown Christmas Displays

Dec. 13, 1953: A Christmas window display at the Brandeis Department Store features a rocket piercing through the window.

This One's a Winner

Nov. 11, 1951: J.C. Penney's "Santa preparing for the Christmas trip" was a winner among Class A stores.

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