Some of the best Christmas traditions in Poteau originated in the 1920s. Although simple, long strands of garland were ran across Dewey, forming a “Christmas tunnel” downtown.
The downtown Christmas decorations remained fairly simple until the 1940s. During the 1920s and 1930s, the nation was recovering from the effects of the Great Depression and the the Great Dust Bowl. Following World War II, the nation entered into a time of great prosperity and national pride.
This was evident in small towns across the United States. Poteau, having always been a progressive city, followed suit. New Christmas decorations went up and parades got bigger.
During the 1950s and 1960s, downtown Poteau was decorated like never before. Cool cars, neon lights, and a thriving business district added to the “uptown” Christmas feel.
This trend continued through the 1980s, but took a brief hit following the 1981 Victory Theater fire that destroyed almost an entire block of downtown.
In the early 2000s, the large ornaments that once hung across the streets were finally laid to rest. By this time, they hadn’t aged well and had been repaired so often that there wasn’t a good way to save them. These were replaced with the hanging light pole fixtures that we see today.