The first community Christmas tree was planted in the Williams County courthouse park in 1913. Local newspapers noted that the City of Toledo annually planted a Christmas tree in its public square. The idea caught on locally and for many years Bryan had a community Christmas tree.
Beginning in 1933 Christmas music was played from the courthouse tower. Three years prior, the Bryan Business Men’s Association began to “string festoons of lights” around the square. Colored lights were hung from the boulevard lamp posts. It was stated “the effect will be very cheerful and add much to the holiday appearance of the town. With the community tree lighted up and myriads of lamps around the square, Bryan will look more like a Christmas tree than ever.”
Christmas 1947 was special: “The most elaborate Christmas decorations the downtown district has had in several years” were strung around the square. The decorations included stringing cables carrying 1,500 colored lights from the courthouse. Bryan’s Christmas decorations were so awe-inspiring that year that passing trains slowed down so their passengers could witness the fantastic display of lights from the courthouse. Since 1947, under the auspices of the Bryan Area Chamber of Commerce, the courthouse square has become a literal fantasy land at Christmas.
This vintage color image of courthouse square Christmas decorations was taken from Lynn Street near the southwest corner of the square. Santa Claus’ house was placed on the former bandstand, and decorated evergreens line the sidewalk.
This historic photograph is from the Williams County Public Library’s Photographic Archives–Courtesy of the Williams County, Ohio, Local History Exchange.
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