HOW THE HOFFMAN ESTATES JAYCEES WON THE STATE STREET CHRISTMAS PARADE!

The box above is missing a picture of a snowman float that was created in Hoffman Estates in 1962. That year the State Street Council of Chicago decided to try something new with their famous Christmas parade. They opened it up to the suburbs, allowing local villages and cities to create a representative float to appear in the parade.

In fact, according to an article from the Hoffman Herald of November 1, 1962, “the Council wrote to the village requesting participation, and agree[d] to underwrite the cost of a float to the extent of $100.” Needless to say, even in 1962, this would not be enough to cover the expense so, once the Village gave approval, they also “agreed to further underwrite the cost of a float by an additional $150.”

They also requested that the Hoffman Estates Jaycees construct the float that would represent the village. So, with the help of an additional $150 from F & S Construction and $25 from Judge Muldowney, the Jaycees formed a special parade committee and got started.

Jim Boyer was named materials chairman and Carl Johnson was named construction chairman. They enlisted the assistance of fellow Jayceers Jerry Meyers, Fred Downing, Neal Galvin, Jim DeCardo, Dave Basch, Jim Lewis, Jim Sloan and Don Daly.

After throwing in the Jaycees’ donation of more than $425, they also contacted Al Hartman of the Roselle Lumber Company, who agreed to donate all of the lumber and exterior fibre glass. The Dickhaut Painting and Decorating Company of Elgin provided the painting and flocking, and “basic construction of the float was made by the lathing class, Washburn Trade School, Chicago.” [The Record, November 29, 1962]

Because a large enough site was required to create the float, H.C. Wilkening stepped in and donated a construction spot on his farm property. (You can see his farm in the upper right corner of the map above. It was located where the Dunbar Lakes subdivision is today, on the northwest corner of Schaumburg and Plum Grove Roads.) With all of the necessary materials, and manpower that consisted of more than 800 hours of volunteer help, the float came together in the shape of a 35-foot snowman.

The immense size of the structure required three more bits of special assistance: one, a hydraulic lift that was incorporated into the construction so that the snowman could be raised and lowered as it encountered the State Street “L” tracks and the bridges on the Congress Expressway; two, Don Sperling of Hoffman Estates provided the truck that was used to pull the float; and three, the village, state and Chicago police were required to act as escorts for the trip into the city.

And what a trip it was. The amount of time that it took to travel there and back, allowing for the bridges and the huge size of the float, was five hours. Five hours!

But, it was not in vain because, it won First Place in the suburban division! The cash prize was $1000 and the Jaycees and the village drove away (albeit, slowly) with a wonderful coup for the three-year-old village.

As Ed Pinger, village president, said at a huge victory celebration on November 25, “Today Hoffman Estates was put on the map. The entire village joins me in thanking all of the Jaycees for their tremendous effort.”

So, if you have a photo of this infamous snowman and would be happy to contribute it to the blog posting, I’d welcome the opportunity to add it. We’d all love to see what this masterpiece looked like!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

This blog posting was written with the assistance of The Record, November 29, 1962 and the Hoffman Herald, November 1 and 29, 1962.

 

5 Responses to “HOW THE HOFFMAN ESTATES JAYCEES WON THE STATE STREET CHRISTMAS PARADE!”

  1. Fred Luft Says:

    I have never heard of this story before. Thanks Jane for posting this.

  2. Anthony Martini Says:

    Wouldn’t the city of Chicago have photos of the parade ?

    • jrozek Says:

      Hello Anthony,

      As part of my research for this blog posting, I contacted the Chicago Loop Alliance which, in 2005, absorbed the Greater State Street Council who originally sponsored the parade. I was hoping the Alliance still had the archives but discovered that they were passed on to the Harold Washington Library. I then contacted the Archival Collections Room at the Library. They checked the file in the Greater State Street Council’s archives for the year 1962 and, unfortunately, did not see a photo. (There were only about 12 items from that year in the folder.)

      This is why I’m hoping someone may have a photo of this magnificent float in their personal collection. It would be so cool to see!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library
      jrozek@stdl.org

  3. William Says:

    Jane,

    There are two books in the Illinois Collection, both written by Robert P. Ledermann, the subject of both being State Street Christmas parades.

    Fingers-crossed, perhaps what you’re looking for is in one of those books? Or possibly the author, or his family, has additional resources? (A bit of digging indicates this gentleman may have passed earlier this year.)

    Good luck with the hunt…it’s always a pleasure seeing where you’ll take us next.

    Willilam

    • jrozek Says:

      Hello William,

      Believe me, I tried those resources too! I considered tracking down the descendants of the author but, in looking at the books, most of his material came from the State Street Council. That’s why I thought that would be my best possibility. Unfortunately, that did not pan out either.

      I included the names of those involved with the construction of the float, hoping some of their children or grandchildren would stumble across this and contribute a photo of two. I’m still hoping that’s the case because it’s too good of a story to let go!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library
      jrozek@stdl.org

Leave a Reply to Fred Luft Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: