Sunday, December 8, 2013

South Florida’s Christmas past: of mule parties, teacher surprises, film studios and …

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory
Christmas caroling Christmas Eve 1935, Miami. 
A Federal Emergency Recovery project

  • By Jane Feehan 

  • Christmas in South Florida of decades past was celebrated with parties and special community events much as it is today. But there were different situations, some that may draw a smile or surprise. The following may provide a little of both.

    1917 - West Palm Beach: Staffers of New Jersey-based World Film Corporation stayed at the Salt Air hotel in Palm Beach in order to attend a Christmas party Dec. 8 in West Palm Beach at Metcalf hall. They were on hand to obtain “natural scenes” at the Hawaiian-themed affair. The hall was decorated as a Hawaiian garden; guests followed suit in appropriate garb. Admission was charged to spectators and participating dancers.

    1921-Miami: A “unique” Christmas party was held Christmas day for every mule and work horse in Miami. School children in the city played host while Boy Scouts fed carrots, apples, sugar and bread to the “dumb animals” so they would have as enjoyable day as possible.

    1921-Miami: Teachers at “grammar schools” were given a “real Christmas surprise” … when they received pay checks for the month of December “right on the dot” as a result of a clerical arrangement. Checks were cut without waiting for reports from principals; if they had waited for those reports, checks would have been delayed a few days.

    1934-Miami: The Kiwanis Club of Coral Gables held a Christmas party atop the Alcazar Hotel for 100 children with one of the outcomes expected to be the establishment of a fund to bring children from “100 communities of the United States to enjoy the benefits of South Florida sunshine.”

    1944-Florida and the United States: There was no Christmas gift wrapping paper, boxes and other accessories produced because the US Government declared it a non-essential industry during World War II. The one bright spot was the production of greeting cards. Cards were made small and in lighter paper but there was no shortage. Reason? About 15 million people were away from home to work war plant jobs throughout the country; sending Yuletide greetings was critical in shoring up morale of the workforce.

    1953-Broward County: About 25,000 attended the fifth annual Broward County Community Christmas party and Circus at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale. Broadcast by WIOD, the party featured Santa Claus riding a truck, the South Broward High School band, circus impresario Bob Morton, Gulfstream Park President Jimmy Dean, and the Boy Scouts. Hundreds of disabled children attended as special guests.  Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

  • Sources:
Miami News, Dec. 8, 1917
Miami News, Dec. 24, 1921
Miami News, Dec. 23, 1934
Miami News, Oct. 01, 1944
Miami News, Dec. 20, 1953

Tags: Florida Christmas history, Miami Christmas 1920s, Palm Beach history, Christmas in South Florida history, Miami in 1930s, Miami in 1940s, South Florida history 

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