6 long-forgotten local Christmas TV specials that should be remembered
Before Rudolph, there was Suzy Snowflake.
Images: WGN Radio, WPIX, YouTube
There's something special about the holiday season. For a brief moment during the year, we get to sit back and relive family traditions that have lasted for decades, whether it's decorating the tree or singing Christmas carols.
But before the national networks decided to produce dazzling Christmas specials in the 1960s, local networks were creating classics all on their own.
Many cherished local specials haven't survived or have long been forgotten. Here are the ones that stick out in our minds. Some of them still have an impact on local markets. Don't see a regional special you used to watch on this list? Add it in the comments below!
1. 'Suzy Snowflake' - Chicago
For more than a decade before the stop-motion magic of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer premiered nationwide, Chicago had its own festive character. Produced by Centaur Productions, Suzy Snowflake dashed into the Windy City in 1953 and has become a local tradition ever since.
2. WPIX Yule Log - New York City
So it's not technically a holiday special, but it just wouldn't be a New York City Christmas without a crackling fireplace on WPIX. Starting in 1966, the TV channel ran the festive fire on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Ratings were huge, especially because not many people in the city had fireplaces in their apartments. The original setting used was Gracie Mansion, the home of then-mayor John Lindsay.
Image: WPIX via TV Party
3. 'Hardrock, Coco and Joe' - Chicago
If you live outside of the Chicagoland area, you've probably never heard of Santa's elves Hardrock, Coco and Joe. Created by the same company that made 'Suzy Snowflake,' this special tells the tale of how the elves help out their boss every year during the holidays.
4. 'The Spirit of Christmas' - Philadelphia
In the 1950s, Philadelphia started its own tradition by airing The Spirit of Christmas,a half-hour program telling two classic holiday tales. Unlike other specials, this one wasn't animated. Instead, marionettes were used to bring the story of the Nativity and "The Night Before Christmas" to life.
5. 'Wonderama Christmas Cartoon Party' - New York City
Wonderama was a fixture for children in the NYC metropolitan area for three decades. In the 1950s, the program threw their youngest viewers a Christmas party by airing a bunch of cartoons. Hosted by Sandy Becker, Herb Sheldon and Al Hodge, the special offered kids nine hours of cartoons as they played around with their new toys.
Image: WABD via Vimeo
6. 'Frosty the Snowman' - Chicago
We know what you're thinking: No, the 1969 version of Frosty the Snowman wasn't a local classic that went national. We're talking about a 1954 version created by United Productions of America. The animated short features a rather lifelike Frosty dancing with children to the tune of his eponymous song.
Yes, we know we missed a few on this list. Add your favorite classic local Christmas special in the comments below!