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Yesterday in La Crosse

A parade in October, for the auditorium, 65 years ago

Brad Williams

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The city of La Crosse put on a parade in October of 1955, honoring the opening of the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium.  About 19,000 spectators watched the parade, which was said to be the longest ever in the city’s history.  Oktoberfest wouldn’t come along for another 6 years.  The parade featured the usual marching bands, floats, and visiting festival queens.  An evening celebration inside the Sawyer included music and dancing.   

The state college was celebrating its purchase of the county fairgrounds, on the east side of La Crosse along Campbell Road.  The school’s enrollment had gone up about 20 per cent in the previous year, with 1300 students attending classes, so more room was needed for campus development.   

Folks in Wisconsin and Minnesota could watch “The Murray Warmath Show” on WCCO-TV from Minneapolis.  How did Warmath get a TV show named after him?  He was the coach of the Minnesota Gophers football team.  “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason became a weekly sitcom in the fall of ’55.  For kids, new TV shows included “The Mickey Mouse Club” and “Captain Kangaroo,” although Channel 8 in La Crosse didn’t start airing the Captain until 7 years later, when they began signing on before 8 o’clock in the morning.  Yesterday in La Crosse.   

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also 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. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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