History: Celebrating Thanksgiving in White Bear Lake

The many ways locals celebrated the holiday through the decades.
Helen Fillebrown, instigator of the music section of the White Bear Lake Women's Club.

Thanksgiving has been celebrated in a number of ways throughout our area’s history. There are, of course, the traditional family gatherings with the customary turkey, cranberries and pie, and the anticipation in more recent years of Black Friday deals. There have also been more unusual commemorations of the occasion through local organizations and civic clubs. 
One such event was the first evening musicale of the White Bear Women’s Club Music Section held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Enright on Lake Avenue in 1929. The celebration exclusively featured Thanksgiving numbers performed primarily on piano by Helen Fillebrown. Miss Adelaide Enright, daughter of the hosts, recited a history of the Thanksgiving tradition. 
Another activity to celebrate the holiday in 1969 was the Thanksgiving Game Night hosted by the St. Mary’s Home-School Association to raise funds to furnish the new parish center. Prizes included Thanksgiving turkeys and a 19-inch Zenith television. 
The 1950s included “Turkey Games” sponsored by the White Bear Lake Junior Chamber of Commerce at the White Bear Lake Armory as a fundraiser for that organization. 
Since the 1940s, local congregations, including First Presbyterian, St. John’s Episcopal and the Lutheran church, held combined services on Thanksgiving Day or Thanksgiving Eve, often taking up a collection for the welfare board or other needs in the area. Activities following the services ranged from gathering for fellowship to movies shown in the church hall to live performances. 
During the Roaring ’20s, the community gathered for a different type of fellowship at the White Bear Castle. The dance hall was located in the Cottage Park area on the current site of Lion’s Park. The evening’s schedule included the Commanders, who were scheduled to start playing at 9:15 p.m.
No matter what your taste, the White Bear area seems to have found a holiday celebration to fit everyone throughout the decades. 

Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society. She is one of a handful of community representatives sharing history thoughts monthly on this back page. 651.407.5327.