Over The Years, It's Always Been an Edmonds Kind Of Christmas

From the earliest store decorations to the first municipal Christmas trees to this year's 2011 tree lighting, Edmonds has kept its small town holiday traditions alive.

From its earliest days as a logging settlement, Edmonds citizens have commemorated the holiday season with decorations, music and community spirit. This week's collection of photos takes a look back at images of holiday seasons past.

Sadly, no images exist of holiday decor from the early 20th century. We'll just have to imagine the special cuts of meat in Jim Otto's butcher shop, the collection of holiday sweets, baking supplies and spices in the Roscoe Brothers Grocery and the array of gift items and festive clothing in Kingdon's General Merchandise.

Early businesses decorated their windows and facades with boughs, wreathes and ribbons, giving the downtown core a festive aura. Early holiday activities were centered mostly around home and church, with families joining their neighbors to share holiday cheer.

Occasionally Mother Nature would join in the festivities. A Christmas Day snowstorm in 1909 blanketed the Puget Sound area and added some special magic to Edmonds' downtown scene. The local newspapers remarked, "When the town woke up this morning, the hills and dales were covered with a mantle of snow that brought to the city that dearly beloved white Christmas."

The years following World War II saw Edmonds evolve away from its industrial roots toward the mixed residential-business community of today. Holiday traditions evolved along with this and became increasingly community-based.

Early-century holiday displays were mostly erected and maintained by private individuals and businesses. The 1950s saw the first city-sponsored efforts and the first municipal Christmas tree, placed at the intersection of Fifth and Main. Not yet an official traffic circle, the intersection became a de facto roundabout every holiday season as cars slowed to admire the tree, many making several circles before proceeding on.

The intersection quickly became the traditional location for the Edmonds' Christmas tree. It was officially designated as a traffic circle and public art location in 1970. In 1974, the first public art installation was placed, a free-form copper fountain, but the holiday tree tradition continued. During the holidays the fountain was turned off and draped with evergreen boughs, lights and ornaments to simulate a tree.

The Ganahl-Hanley log cabin, relocated to downtown Edmonds in 1976 from its original Seaview location, was soon designated Edmonds' official "Christmas House." Decorated each year by volunteers, the cabin adds to the festive spirit of downtown Edmonds at holiday time.

In 2000, the Cedar Dreams Fountain became the latest piece of public art to occupy the traffic circle. While several attempts were made to dress the fountain as a Christmas tree, its shape and design did not lend it to this purpose. Instead, holiday lights were strung on the fountain and the trees surrounding the traffic circle to create a festive atmosphere.

The Edmonds municipal tree now sits across from City Hall in Centennial Plaza. Located adjacent to the Ganahl-Hanley log cabin, this location creates a block-long corridor of holiday lights along Fifth Avenue North between the municipal tree and the Cedar Dreams fountain. 

There have been many changes in holiday displays over the years, but the spirit that guides them continues. Last week's tree lighting ceremony brought a crowd of Edmonds citizens together to enjoy the lights, share the holiday spirit, and raise their voices in song. 

Once again, it's an Edmonds Kind of Christmas.


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