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Alias Santa Claus Club

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On this date in 1923, a strong holiday spirit prevailed in the city of Bismarck as residents made ready for the holiday. The shops in downtown Bismarck had thrummed with activity throughout the season. On this date, a Community Christmas event was set to start, with trumpeters stationed around the city, "adding a touch of the old-time method of observing Christmas, and calling the people to the community gathering."

In a departure from his normal holiday schedule, Santa Claus arrived arriving around 4pm, well before the children were asleep. He came from the west, arriving by truck on this occasion, rather than his usual sleigh and reindeer. The celebration at Northern Pacific park, welcomed "all the kiddies of the city," and provided treat bags of candy for everyone 14 and younger.

The celebration culminated with a tree lighting of the Northern Pacific tree on Christmas Day, along with music by various church choirs and community singing.

Santa had a number of helpers that year, in the form of a "mythical organization," the "Alias Santa Claus Club." This club consisted of people willing to pitch in for families that could use some help.

To join the Alias Santa Claus Club, residents merely needed to contact Mary Cashel, who directed the Social Registration Bureau in Bismarck to identify deserving families. The "Santas" were matched with a family, and then it was up to them to provide their family with some cheer and a good meal, and whatever else they might feel able to give.

The Bismarck Tribune wrote about the club in mid-December, and within two days, two-thirds of the families identified had been assigned to "Santas." After the newspaper wrote about the club a second time, the club had more Santas than it had families to help!

At least 52 families were embraced by members of the club, with about 225 children in these families. The Santas were mainly individuals, though the Masonic Lodge adopted one family, and one family cared for four families on their own. The Tribune noted that "The professional men and bachelors were particularly in evidence in the early joining of the "Alias Santa Claus Club."

Santa Claus, or at least his helpers, were everywhere.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:

Bismarck Tribune:

December 13, 1923, p1

December 15, 1923, p1

December 20, 1923, p1

December 24, 1923, p1

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