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Cleveland Holiday Memories

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Talk with anyone over the age of 10 about Christmas in Cleveland and you'll hear stories of cherished memories about shopping with family, that perfect holiday tree or icons of days past. Gail Ghetia Bellamy shares some of those memories in her new book, "Cleveland Christmas Memories," published in November by Gray and Co. We thought we'd put together a list of our own. Over the past years, readers of About.com Cleveland have shared their holiday memories, particularly about the Sterling-Lindner Christmas tree. Feel free to add you memory to the lists.

Sterling-Lindner Christmas Tree

Cleveland's Sterling Linder Christmas Tree
(CSU/Cleveland Press Collection)
The spectacular, three-story, indoor tree at the Sterling-Lindner-Davis department store was the largest in the United States. The store, located at E. 12th Street and Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland, served the community from 1909 until it closed in 1968.

Mr. Jingeling

Mr. Jingeling at Halles Department Store in Cleveland
(CSU Special Collections/Cleveland Press Collection)
Those who are old enough to remember shopping at Halle's Department Store in downtown Cleveland probably remember visiting the 7th floor during the holiday season and giving their holiday wish list to Mr. Jingeling, one of Santa's favorite elves and the "keeper of the keys." Mr Jingeling first appeared in 1956 on WEWS (Channel 5) to promote Halle's Department store. He later became a regular fixture in the store's holiday exhibit.

Holiday Lights at Nela Park

Nela Park holiday lights display, Cleveland Ohio
(© Cetta Sole Hartman/used with permission)
Some perennial holiday favorites are still going strong. Among these is the annual holiday light display at General Electric's Nela Park in East Cleveland. Since 1925, Nela Park has put up hundreds of thousands of lights along the Noble Road perimeter of their grounds, beginning in early December and lasting until New Years Day. Nela Park also manufactures the lights for the National Christmas Tree in Washington DC.

Shopping at Higbee's

(CSU Special Collections/Cleveland Memory Project)
For many Cleveland residents of the 1950s and 1960s, it just wouldn't have been Christmas without a trip downtown to shop at Higbee's Department Store at Public Square. For many families, it was a special occasion, worth dressing up for. Not only did you get to look at all of the elegant merchandise, but you got to view the animated store windows (worthy of anything Macy's could produce) and have lunch at the Silver Grille.

The former Higbee's Department Store space is now home to Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. The casino has kept many of the architectural details that made Higbee's so special, such as the high ceilings and wrought-iron banisters. They have also dug out a few of the old department store decorations (plus added a few of their own) to decorate the building for the holidays. It's a delightful mixture of old and new.

The Live Nativity at St. Michael's Church

(© Stu Spivack/cc license)
St. Michael's Church, at the edge of Tremont, is lovely anytime of year. The high-Gothic Catholic church is one of the oldest and most ornate in Cleveland. At Christmastime, the parish puts on a Christmas pageant, complete with live donkeys, sheep and cows.

"A Christmas Story"

A Christmas Story House - Cleveland Ohio
(courtesy of travelcleveland.com)
You don't have to be from Cleveland to love the movie, "A Christmas Story," but it helps. Those of us over a certain age remember the filming in downtown Cleveland in and around Higbee's as well as in Tremont. Today, you can still rent the 1983 Christmas classic movie or tour the Tremont house where the movie was filmed, reborn in 2006 as "A Christmas Story" House and Museum.

Cleveland Play House Festival of Trees

(© 2007 S. Mitchell)
Each year until the building on Euclid Avenue and East 85th Street closed, the Cleveland Play House would adorn its halls with a collection of 70 or more Christmas trees, all decked for the holidays. Local florists, garden groups and children's organizations would decorate a tree according to that year's theme. We captured a few pictures of the 1997 Festival of Trees.
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