Retro Christmas in Union
Holiday Open House features sounds, sights and sentiments of yesteryear.
Dave Harms’ Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree Forest takes center stage again this year during the Holiday Open House, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, December 5 at McHenry County Historical Society in Union. All are invited to share in the celebration of the aluminum tree: A midcentury American phenomenon that has made a comeback in recent years.
“I see it as a moment in time, when we had space exploration coming on and all of these new things being made out of aluminum,” Harms said.
Harms and his antiquing partner, Lynne Eltrevoog, are bringing about 70 aluminum trees, manufactured between 1958 and 1969. Harms has staged holiday displays at the museum for the past nine years. He began collecting Christmas memorabilia in 1980, when he first set out to find a lighted tree stand like the one his grandparents used when he was a child.
Fearing the stand would leak and short out the lights, Harms said, they never turned it.
“The fact that grandpa and grandma never had it working drove me nuts,” said Harms, who grew up in Morton Grove and now lives in Crystal Lake.
The wintery feel of the aluminum Christmas tree forest is completed by white backdrop, donated by Miceli Drapery Co. of Union, and by many holiday pieces Harms has collected during the more than 35 years he as been a member of Golden Glow of Christmas Past – a worldwide club for collectors of antique Christmas items. They include molded elves and angels; plastic 5-foot Santas and a snowman, once given away by Polk Bros. appliance and furniture stores in 1962; as well as color wheels, aluminum candy canes, lighted decorations, sleds, a working Lionel train.
While you’re at he open house, you can also:
- U-pick holiday jukebox tunes.
- Buy homemade bake sale goodies.
- Make old-fashioned ornaments.
- Listen to live piano music (11 a.m. to noon).
- Shop the museum store for holiday gifts.
There is free admission during the open house. The tree forest will remain on display at the museum 1 p.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, December 8 through January 8.
Watch as Harms discuss the history of aluminum trees in the following video: