By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 14, 2022 at 9:03 AM

Snuggle up with some holiday cheer as OnMilwaukee shares stories of everything merry and bright in the spirit of the season.

The OnMilwaukee Ho Ho Holiday Guide is brought to you by Educators Credit Union, Harley-Davidson Museum and MolsonCoors

With the holiday cheer everywhere around us here in Brew City, we decided to share some images of the season in Milwaukee across the decades.

Enjoy this walk down memory lane.

Court of Honor Christmas tree, 1930s


A crowd gathers near the tree at 10th and Wisconsin Avenue in this undated 1930s photograph, courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library.

Wisconsin Avenue decorations, 1942


A bittersweet image that shows not only early 1940s holiday decorations on Wisconsin Avenue, looking east from 3rd Street, but also a crowd gathered as coffee and (voluntary) meat rationing began on Nov. 30. Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library.

Santa arrives at Southgate by helicopter, 1950s

Santa at SouthgateX

Many Milwaukeeans recall shopping at the city’s first mall, opened in 1951, with their parents and some even remember the arrival of Santa by helicopter.  Photo courtesy of Gordon Kelley and the Old Milwaukee Facebook group.

Courthouse nativity creche, pre-1960


This nativity scene also offers a glimpse of the Milwaukee County Courthouse in the background. Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library.

Holiday Folk Fair dancers, pre-1960

Holiday Folk FairX

The Holiday Folk Fair, at about 80 years old, is surely among Milwaukee’s longest-running holiday traditions. Here, a trio of Spanish-Latin American dancers shows off elaborate dresses. Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library.

Another sweater ... great. 1961


This Kodachrome image – provided by Adam Levin, whose book of Milwaukee Kodachromes is coming next year from The History Press – shows an unknown Milwaukee family exchanging gifts.

Capitol Court’s Kooky Cookie House, 1960s

Kooky Cookie HouseX

This unique attraction, installed at Capitol Court in 1960, is a treasured memory for many Milwaukeeans. A recreated version lives on to this day, thanks to Gino Salomone.

Wisconsin Avenue holiday parade, 1960s


An undated image shared by Karl Bandow shows lights strung across "the Avenue" and some amazing signs: Flagg Brothers, Richman Brothers, the Warner Theater, Brouwer's. In the 1960s, Wisconsin Avenue was still the city's main retail draw, before the malls really kicked into gear.

Miller Valley Lites, 1966

Valley lightsX

Another enduring Brew City tradition is the lighting of the Miller Brewery in the Valley. This image is from 1966 and was shared by Molson Coors.

Hanukkah service, 1971


This photograph shows a Milwaukee-area Hanukkah service at an unknown synagogue. Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library.

Milwaukee County Transit System holiday bus, 1981


Just as The Hop does today, even the buses got into the spirit! Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library.

Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra, The Shops of Grand Avenue, 2013


Some kids loved these animatronic musical bears and other ran screaming at the former Grand Avenue Mall (aka The Shops of Grand Avenue). The bears, which debuted early in the 21st century took their final bow in 2017. Photo by Royal Brevvaxling.

Streets of Old Milwaukee, 2016


Granny’s house was all decorated for the holidays when I was invited inside to interview her for this OnMilwaukee story.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.