In the heart of Sault Ste. Marie, where we know a thing or two about winter, Christmas memories linger like whispers of a bygone era. As we bid farewell to 2023 and usher in the promises of 2024, let’s take a stroll down memory lane, revisiting a time when carolers filled the air, horse-drawn carriages clattered through downtown, and Christmas trees stood as silent witnesses to the season’s joy… even if they stood in the middle of Ashmun Street.

Just as the city cherishes its history, it has also made sure this particular time of year has been jolly for everyone. We asked our social media followers to reflect on some of their favorite Christmas memories in the Soo and are happy to share their experiences.

A Prelude to the Season: Parker ACE Hardware Parade of Lights

christmas in sault ste marie

The magic of Christmas begins in Sault Ste. Marie with the Parker ACE Hardware Parade of Lights. This time-honored tradition marks the start of the festive season, transforming the streets into a luminous spectacle. Mr. and Mrs. Claus make their appearance, spreading cheer and setting the tone for the holidays. It always takes place the Friday following Thanksgiving.

A Glimpse Back: The Ashmun Street Christmas Tree

downtown christmas tree

One of the most enduring Christmas time images of Sault Ste. Marie conjured up during the holidays is of the Ashmun Street Christmas tree. Years ago, Ashmun Street was once four-lanes, and at the end of the year, a giant Christmas tree would be set up near the intersection of Ashmun and Spruce Street.

“I always LOVED it when the tree was right smack in the middle of Ashmun!!” exclaimed one reader. “I know it was a traffic hazard, but it sure was beautiful! And going Christmas shopping at Kresge’s and Woolworth as a kid!!”

The aluminum Christmas tree has always been a popular response when we’ve asked our followers what they remember about Christmas in the Soo. This year both Lauren and Cheryl mentioned it. Follower Dee told us she “Started the season with the turkey hunt on the radio WSOO,” and recalled “downtown giant tree and Woolworths and Kresges shopping!”

In addition to the tree, Ashmun Street bustled with seasonal cheer. The former Central Savings Bank location was a frequent hub for Christmas joy. Other sites, such as Woolworth’s and Montgomery Ward’s, also sparked memories for our Facebook followers.

“The plastic carolers on top of Central Savings Bank,” reminisced a commenter. “They had Christmas music playing that you could hear on Ashmun.”

Our reader Theresa summed up the era perfectly a few years ago:

“Eating French fries with a Coke at the booth in Woolworth’s, and watching the cars go by and witnessing the tree sway in the snow and wind, glistening and sparklingly, with Christmas Carols playing low, inside, nice and warm.”

Evolution of Elegance: From Ashmun to City Hall

xmas tree by city hall

As time marched on, the Ashmun Street tree underwent changes. A faux tree replaced the original, marking the end of an era. Subsequently, the city’s Christmas tree found new homes, from the Chippewa County Courthouse to its present location beside City Hall on Portage Avenue.

The Community of Trees & Contemporary Cheer

avery center christmas

In the present day, Sault Ste. Marie continues to weave new traditions into its festive tapestry. The Community of Trees at the Avery Center stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of the season. Throughout December, this showcase of exquisitely decorated Christmas trees serves as both a visual delight and a charitable endeavor.

As the city sparkles with events like the Downtown Christmas Shopping Open House and the illuminating ceremonies at City Hall, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in the Soo. Santa Claus, with his rosy cheeks and hearty laughter, makes his annual appearance, delighting the young and the young at heart.

Whether your memories are steeped in an era before the internet or are as fresh as the glistening snowfall, each tale is a testament to the enduring charm of Christmas in Sault Ste. Marie. As you gather with friends and family, may the warmth of these memories kindle the holiday spirit within you.

What are your cherished traditions during Christmas in the Soo or the Eastern Upper Peninsula? Share them with #ilovethesoo on your social media, inviting others to join in the joyous celebration. For more insights into the traditions of yesteryear and a guide to wintertime merriment in Sault Ste. Marie, follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.