by Doug Hill
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Themed “Hometown Christmas,” Norman’s Christmas parade is rolling through town this year 10 a.m. Dec. 14 with memories of Christmas past.
The grand moving spectacle will begin at Norman High School and travel slowly along Main Street to its conclusion at Crawford Avenue. The 2013 parade grand marshall is Allen Morain. Ed Copelin has been the organization chairperson.
The parade has long been a way for the entire town to come together for a single event and celebrate the joy of the season. Everyone is invited. Marching bands, floats, riders on fine horses and a visit from Santa Claus have been a part of parades past and will be repeated for 2013. No Norman Christmas Parade would be complete without candy and a bountiful supply will be tossed into the throngs free by the marchers.
The Canadian River Cruisers motoring club will be well represented with select members driving vintage vehicles. These delightful old automobiles spark memories for senior citizens and wonder among young people who have never seen them before. One perennial favorite is a 1926 Ford Model T pick-up truck driven by Cruisers President David Saunders and spouse Marilyn. The vehicle’s sides are professionally painted with the legend “Murray’s Dry Goods.” That was a Norman business located on the northeast corner of Main Street and Crawford Avenue. It was owned and operated in the 1930s by Marilyn’s grandfather, Oscar M. Murray, who was mayor for a time. The Saunders have lived all over the country but Norman is Marilyn’s actual hometown and David has adopted it as his.
On Facebook page, “You Know You’re from Norman if…”, Norman residents recollected affectionate memories from past parades. Then and now the merchant community was actively involved in contributing to the excitement of the Christmas parade.
Troy Cook, Norman High School class of 1971, remembers when Old Saint Nick abandoned his sleigh and reindeer for a more modern flying machine.
“I liked when we all went to Main Street and Santa dropped ping pong balls out of a helicopter and you got prizes from different stores in the ‘60s, I believe,” he wrote.
Downtown has changed since those times. The department stores are gone but at one time they were a vibrant part of the holiday shopping experience. Glenda Madden grew up here and still calls Norman her hometown.
“I always enjoyed parking on Main Street and walking both sides with my parents,” she wrote. “The merchants would put various Normanite’s names in their windows, announcing that person had won a certain item from their store. I remember my mother was over-the-moon with excitement when we spotted her name in the Holtzschue window as the winner of a G. E. coffee percolator. Mom loved coffee and she wore that thing out!”
That same wooden floored establishment, which was a hardware store, had a clever method for attracting children and their parents after the parade.
“They would set up a toy land at the back of the store,” Jon Rennie recalled. He reckons that would have been in the 1950s.
Another retailer of popular small box Christmas gifts is still in business at 217 E. Main St.
“Goodno’s Jewelers would give free tickets to the Sooner Theatre for kids so their moms could go shopping without them,” Tanya Webb Wade Wallace wrote.
For many folks an unforgettable Christmas parade component was provided by the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, aka the Shriners. Their parade units famously drive miniature cars powered by lawn mower engines. You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen a group of otherwise mature men having the time of their lives hooting and hollering and driving ridiculous little jalopies in tight figure eight circles on a parade route.
Lynne Thompson is a life-long Norman resident and administrator at Longfellow Middle School. Part of her job has been riding herd over a student drum line.
“My most memorable Christmas parade was the first time my middle school drum line played in the parade,” Thompson wrote. “It was a chilly 32 degrees with a dark gray sky threatening to open up with sleet at any moment. The students had on heavy coats, gloves, festive hats and trash bags covering the drum heads. ‘Please don’t let it rain’ they yelled out. They could hardly contain their excitement about playing in the parade. At last we rolled onto Main Street beating our drums with catchy rhythms. That year we demolished our competition called ‘The Little Dazzlers’ and won the ‘Mayor’s favorite’ trophy. The kids were thrilled!”
2013’s Christmas Parade is certain to create a new set of memories about this place we call our home town.
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