Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


November 21, 2011

Remembering Gimbel’s Thanksgiving Day parade

EXLINE — The unseasonably nice weather has been enjoyable for this time of year. Living around here, we all know we could have some real winter like conditions by now. So, we are savoring each nice day until then.  

Recently, I was looking through a recipe box and came across one that had been clipped out of the Daily Iowegian almost 30 years ago by my mom.

The clipping said it was taken from the Tuesday, May 8, 1984 edition of the newspaper.   

With the upcoming holidays, this old candy recipe sounded like it might be one that should be repeated. The paper said it was for an old style candy called:





2 ½ c. brown sugar

2 Tb. of butter

½ c. milk

1 c. English Walnuts (chopped into small pieces).

1 tsp.vanilla.



In a small sauce pan, add the brown sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When it has boiled long enough to form a ball, when dropped into cold water, remove from the heat. Stir in walnuts and the vanilla.

Then stir until almost too stiff to pour. Scrape the pan and put the batter into a buttered 9” by 9” square pan. When cooled, cut into squares.    


Everyone has heard of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and probably has watched it a lot of times over the years, on television. Did you know they were not the first department store to begin the Thanksgiving Day tradition of kicking off the holiday season with a parade to welcome Santa Claus?

The tradition began in Philadelphia in 1920 when their renowned Gimbel’s Department store launched its first parade to encourage shoppers to bring the children to come and visit Santa Claus in their vast toy department and large store on Market Street, in center city Philadelphia.

The Gimbel’s Department store originally opened in 1894 and carried on a long tradition as one of Philadelphia’s top stores.   

The store was founded by the Gimbel Family, which consisted of Bernard Gimbel,  Frederic Gimbel and Adam Gimbel.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City did not begin until four years later in 1924.

The rivalry between Gimbel’s and Macy’s, was fictionalized in the original Miracle on 34th Street movie that came out in 1947. The two stores did compete against each other, since Gimbel’s also had a New York City store back in those days.

The original movie contained actual film footage of the 1946 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It starred Maureen O’Hara and a young Natalie Wood.

Years ago, the famous Slinky, the moveable spring like toy, was debuted at a Gimbel’s Department Store at their northeast Philadelphia Gimbel’s location.

At one time, Gimbel’s was the largest department store in America. When I was growing up, I remember we would take the subway from New Jersey over to Philadelphia on Thanksgiving morning and go watch the parade in person. We did that a few times over the years. In those days, the parade would march around the historic, Victorian Philadelphia City Hall and go east on Market Street to the big Gimbel’s store there. Waiting at the store, would be a big Hook and Ladder fire truck, provided by the Philadelphia Fire Department.   

As the parade came to a stop in front of the store, Santa Claus would climb down off of his float in the parade and then go over to the fire truck ladder and proceed up the long ladder to enter the store. He would go in an open window on an upper floor to enter into his Toyland.

The next day, on black Friday, he would be there to greet the children. When I was little, my mom would go Christmas shopping in center city and she would take me to get my picture taken with Santa Claus in the big department store.

For years, the Gimbel’s parade was broadcast on television nationwide, by the CBS Network along with the highlights of a couple of other parades on Thanksgiving Day.

When the Gimbel’s stores closed in 1987, there were 36 stores in the United States. The store name was remembered in a modern Christmas movie, as the fictionalized Gimbel’s Department Store in the movie Elf.

Although the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade continues to gain all of the publicity, the oldest continuous Christmas parade, still remains in Philadelphia. Even though Gimbel’s has been out of business for years, the parade has continued to be sponsored each year, by different businesses.  

For the 2011 Thanksgiving Day parade in Philadelphia, it will be televised to that city’s local television market,  by an ABC affiliate. The parade is now sponsored by the Dunkin Donuts chain of donut shops, to carry on this longstanding tradition of the Christmas season.

We would like to extend a welcome, to some new Exline residents. They are Michael Sornson and Deb Fenton. They now live in the Coal Miners Commons houses on Main Street in town.

They own and operate the ATV Barn on Highway 2, on the west edge of Centerville, where they repair all terrain vehicles.

Recently, Marge Hatfield of rural Exline, was awarded a gold pin and a plaque for 20 years of service at the Centerville Wal-Mart. Congratulations to Marge for her loyal service.

The American flags sure looked pretty, blowing in the breeze last Friday, here in our community, as they lined Main Street for Veteran’s Day.

This past Monday evening, the Exline Royal Neighbors Camp 3000, hosted their annual Fall Dinner at the Exline Community Center. I was told they had delicious food and a nice turn out for the event.

In case you would like to celebrate and have a Thanksgiving Dinner early, the Exline Old Country Store is going to serve a  turkey dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 23, for their mid-day meal. The store will be closed all day on Thanksgiving. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about rental permit fees. The Centerville City Council has conducted two working sessions and a third one is planned in order to get a feel for the public's appetite about raising rental permit fees from charging a landlord $25 every two years to charging a certain amount per rental unit per year. So, the question of the week is, "Are you in favor of Centerville increasing rental permit fees?"

A. I'm in favor.
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C. I'm not sure.
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