Christmas in Lowell is a time of celebration. Throughout Lowell’s history it has been celebrated in a grand style, as only small towns can truly do, much like a family celebration. During the Christmas of 1940 Lowell residents were challenged with the fact that many new residents had come to Lowell during the past year, and everyone did their best to make them feel at home and welcome. Small town citizens are known for generally being more closely associated with each other in their everyday lives, sharing life’s happy and difficult times. In Lowell, stores and businesses decorated and filled the newspaper with Christmas blessings and greetings, local churches and groups advertised their upcoming programs, and even the showboat showed off Lowell’s holiday spirit in distinct style. Main Street lamp posts are decorated with Christmas icons like wreaths, trees and Santas. In the past, strings of lights were strung over the street
As Lowell celebrates Christmas in 2020, the year of Covid–19, it is easy to see similarities during the Christmas celebrations of 1918. Spanish Flu was raging on and off, and though the peace treaty had been signed, the Lowell boys were still overseas. Newspapers were filled with word on both. “Grip (influenza) Cost Great” and “Letter to Lowell Home Folks” were the headlines proclaimed the week before Christmas. Influenza surged right before Christmas as the State Board of Health on December 14 established a rigid quarantine in all cases of influenza. Thankfully for Lowell, there were only five houses under quarantine. Healthy people were encouraged to “keep four feet distance when talking to anyone, don’t get the other man’s breath, stay home, don’t shop in nearby towns and don’t encourage outside visitors to come to Lowell.” The hope was that soon Lowell would be rid of influenza.
December 25, 1918, the much hoped for announcement came. Village President Winegar announced that not a single case of the flu was left in Lowell. The announcement was said to have put the finishing touch on a perfect Christmas Day. While people were encouraged to be on their guard when outside of town, schools opened, church bells rang, and social activities resumed. It was indeed a very Merry Christmas!
Throughout the years Christmas traditions started in town. In 1920 Lowell had a community Christmas tree. It was arranged under the auspices of the Lowell Literary and Clover Leaf Clubs. It was on the Main Street Bridge and was decorated ‘profusely’ with electric lights. During evenings before Christmas there was a lot of community fun with Santa Claus, candy sacks and singing led by members of the two clubs, the American Legion and Boys Scouts. Families with porch lights were requested to keep them turned on all evening on Christmas night.
In 1971, though there had been Christmas parades in the past, the parade tradition really started and continued. The Christmas parade is always very well attended. In 2020 it adapted to a socially distanced drive through parade. So many people came out to the drive thru parade, that traffic was tangled up for hours.
Lowell has always helped their neighbors. From schoolchildren, churches and civil groups – all kinds of events are held to raise money and food to help others at Christmas. Even the police officers get in on the fun by handing out children’s toys at ‘traffic stops.’
This peek at Christmas past has been brief, but as we look to Christmas present, we are grateful to call Lowell home. From everyone here at the Lowell Area Historical Museum, we are honored to be the keepers of this rich history, and we wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The images are of a Christmas tree in the Hill house in Lowell and the Showboat decorated with a Christmas tree.