Cherishing Christmas Memories in Sault Ste. Marie

Whether it’s carolers going door to door spreading joy, horse-drawn carriage rides downtown to go shopping or gazing at one of the city’s many Christmas trees over the years, Sault Ste. Marie has been home to many holiday memories.

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 as we wind down 2020 and prepare for 2021.

The Parker ACE Hardware Parade of Lights kicks off the Christmas season in Sault Ste. Marie, and it features appearances from Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

One of the most enduring Christmastime 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.

“It was so mid-century Soo,” exclaimed one reader. “It went along with the local Big Boy Statue and the Electrical Reddy Kilowatt character. [I] Loved that thing!”

“When you’re 10, 11 years old, it was what you looked forward to seeing every time Mom took you and your sisters downtown,” chimed in another one of our faithful followers.

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 when reflecting upon our question about what are your favorite Christmas memories,

“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.”

The present-day Sault Ste. Marie Christmas tree resides next to the City Hall building on Portage Avenue.

Eventually, the Ashmun Street tree was replaced by a fake tree and then left the downtown street. Over the years, the city’s Christmas tree moved to the Chippewa County Courthouse and then to its present location at City Hall.

community of trees
The Community of Trees at the Avery Center is a month-long showcase and fundraiser featuring finely decorated Christmas trees.

Nowadays, Christmas in the Soo is marked by a handful of events leading up to the big day, such as the Parker ACE Hardware Parade of Lights, Downtown Christmas Shopping Open House, and Community of Trees. These start the day after Thanksgiving and take place throughout December. There are ceremonies such as lighting the City Hall tree, traditions such as Santa Claus making an appearance, and new memories being made by the younger residents of the Soo.

Whether your memories of the Soo are from a time before the internet or as fresh as last week’s snowfall, we hope you cherish them with friends and family and remember all of the pleasantries that go around this time of year.

What are your favorite traditions to celebrate during Christmas in the Soo or around the EUP? Share them with #ilovethesoo on your social media so we can share in the holiday spirit! For more information on memories of yesteryear and how to have wintertime fun in Sault Ste. Marie be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.