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Holiday Traditions in Germantown

November 23, 2011

Santa at Allen's Courtesy of the Germantown Historical Society

For some, Thanksgiving is all about the food – the stuffing, the cranberries, the turkey. For others it is all about football, whether it is the big college bowl game or the game at the local high school. But in Germantown, one of the traditions surrounding perhaps the most American of all holidays has little to do with pilgrims, turkey or even Thanksgiving itself; it was the arrival of Santa at Allen’s Department Store.

Allen’s, founded in 1837, established a store in Germantown in 1927 on the corner of Cheltan Avenue and Greene Street. By the late 1940s the store had expanded from a family store to include a separate men’s clothing store and a furnishings shop. The parade, and the arrival of Santa, is a cherished memory of those that lived in Germantown during the 1950s. Typically held the Friday after Thanksgiving, the route varied from year to year, but usually began in what is now West Mt. Airy and ended with Santa’s arrival at Allen’s. In these images from the late 1950s, Santa used the ladder of a fire engine to climb to the third floor, location of Allen’s Toyland.

Do any of you remember the parade at Allen’s, or any other special Germantown traditions? If so, let us know! Happy Thanksgiving!

Santa in Front of Allen's Courtesy of the Germantown Historical Society

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