Downtown Hudson’s Christmas lights display was a beloved tradition for decades

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Downtown Hudson’s Christmas lights display was a beloved tradition for decades
Downtown Hudson’s last full Christmas lights display took place in 1967. (Photo/Courtesy)

HUDSON – Fortunate indeed are those who can remember downtown Hudson’s old Christmas lights. The display was started by Hudson Light and Power manager Leland Wood in 1927, and it grew in size every year.

After suspending the display during World War II, the 1950s were the golden years. People came from miles away to see our beautiful lights.

In Liberty Park, “Welcome to Hudson” was spelled out in large red and green letters. The cartoon character Reddy Kilowatt hung on the Odd Fellows building. The fire station was gayly decorated, and an electric American flag hung in Cox Square. Wood Square looked like a carousel, with lights strung in all directions. Red bells, golden diamonds, green wreaths and silver stars were seemingly everywhere. The rotary circle itself resembled a lighted merry go round.

Many of these, including the flag, were hand made of wood right here in Hudson by Harry Schneider, Hudson’s premier cabinet maker. His old shop still stands today along Bruce’s Pond behind J&K Tire. Many of us fondly recall the three red bells in front of Durand’s and the Central Street Market, the Santa Claus in front of the Catholic High School, and the candy cane near the Hudson Diner.

The town hall was breathtaking. Large candles adjourned both sides of the entrance, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year were spelled out, and lighted Christmas trees were on the grounds. Strings of colored lights ran down both sides of Main Street, and an Advent wreath with four candles hung near J&K Tire. The total effect was nothing short of incredible.

Downtown Hudson’s Christmas lights display was a beloved tradition for decades
During its heyday in the 1950s, people traveled from miles around to see downtown Hudson’s Christmas lights display. (Photo/Courtesy)

Christmas 1967 proved to be the last year of the display. Suddenly in 1968 the lights failed to appear, and sadness hung over the town. The VFW assumed the job of hanging the flag, using G. Bonazzoli and Son’s bucket truck and the flag was stored in their garage.

Attempts were made to return the display. Meetings were held in the 70s, and in the ’80s a “Bring Back The Lights Committee” was formed. For a couple of years part of the rotary carousel returned. But unfortunately nothing permanent came to fruition.

Almost 60 years have passed since we last saw our beautiful display. Most of the old decorations are still stored by the Hudson Light and Power Company. Photos and information, including a few pieces of the old display can be seen at the Hudson Historical Society museum.

The Hudson Historical Society and the citizens of Hudson are very grateful to VFW Post 1027 for continuing to display our beautiful 1953 electric flag. Seeing it recalls a simpler time, and it imparts a feeling of pride for our town and our nation.

May it continue to shine!

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