When Albany had a Christmas Parade

From the late 1930’s, with an hiatus for World War II, until 1966, Whitney’s Department Store sponsored a Christmas Parade through downtown Albany.12278763_920020901379506_1722683508307449656_n
Whitney’s was 1 of the 2 anchor department stores in downtown. In the 1880s Mr. Whitney, a dry goods merchant already in business prior to the Civil War, built a large 6 floor store on N. Pearl to cater to the carriage trade. Whitney’s in downtown Albany closed in 1968 (it survived for a couple more years at a Stuyvesant Plaza location). The building was demolished in the early 1970s. Today the location is about the middle of the intersection of Pine St. and N. Pearl St.

The Christmas Parade was held in mid-November (to work kids into the Christmas toy frenzy) and the route varied over the years, but it always wended its way down State St and N. Pearl. It drew thousands from Albany and surrounding areas. The Parade culminated with the arrival of Santa in front of Whitney’s Toyland, where children could then visit Santa for the rest of the Christmas season. (Sounds like “A Christmas Story”.)

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Thanks to Chuck Miller for his permission to use his pics of the Parade in the mid-1960s and to my brother Mike for his photo with Whitney’s Santa in 1959.

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Note: some of the funkier balloons in the 1960s Parade are holdovers from the 1930’s Parade.. waste not; want not.

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor

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