J.L. Hudson Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Photograph courtesy of The Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

1949 If it happened to snow during the old J.L. Hudson Thanksgiving Day Parade, the wintry weather just seemed to add to the festive mood. In 1949, snowflakes heightened the holiday spirit, as evidenced by the jolly fellow in red from his perch in front of Hudson’s, waving to throngs of people crammed on Woodward Avenue. His trusty reindeer are in the foreground. The parade always ended in front of Hudson’s with Santa Claus greeting the crowd, which officially signaled the start of the holiday retail season. Back in ’49, downtown Detroit was incontestably the area’s shopping mecca, but the sprouting of suburban shopping malls was on the horizon. Five years later, Northland opened, followed in three years by Eastland, drawing scores of shoppers from the downtown hub.

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