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Wednesday - November 8, 2017 8:43 am

Free parking on Friday nights didn't work so well, 40 years ago

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In November of 1977, downtown La Crosse was still the city's main shopping area, with the big stores open on Friday nights.  The Downtown La Crosse Business Association tried a 90-day experiment to let shoppers park for free on Friday evenings, without plugging the parking meters.  But after two months, it was clear that cars were parking longer than the 1-hour maximum allowed on the meter, so the freebie might have to come to an end.  

For Halloween, lots of people wanted to dress as the year's newest movie villain...Darth Vader of "Star Wars."  Vader lookalikes turned up at several parties around the area.  Local comedian turned realtor Ronnie Eastman had his own Vader costume, including a sound-effects system.  Eastman appeared as the Dark Lord at State Road School. 

The hottest comedian in America in '77 showed up in La Crosse that November with a white suit and an arrow through his head.  Steve Martin entertained 3000 people at the Sawyer Auditorium, saying it was great to be in the capital of Wisconsin.  Opening for Martin was musician John Sebastian, who sang his recent hit, the theme song from "Welcome Back, Kotter."  The top ticket price to see Steve Martin was $8 in 1977, 40 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.


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Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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