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For Love of Mr. Bingle



Mascot Heads for the Burbs

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This local tradition - the hanging of Mr. Bingle on the
Canal Street Maison Blanche - now will take place at
the Lakeside Dillard's.

File Photo
© 1998 The Times-Picayune Publishing Co. All rights reserved.
Used with permission of The Times-Picayune.



Mr. Bingle's moving, but not far away

Lakeside will be snowman's new home

By Ronette King
Business writer/The Times-Picayune
Oct. 15, 1998

The custody negotiations have ended and Mr. Bingle will stay with the New Orleans community that has loved him for generations.

The only difference is, he's moving to the suburbs.

Dillard's Inc. announced Wednesday that the snowman mascot of Maison Blanche Department Stores will be used in the company's holiday marketing campaign in the New Orleans area.

The holiday character was left homeless after the flagship Maison Blanche store on Canal Street closed earlier this month.

The embodiment of Bingle, a two-story, papier-mach figure, will be installed outside the Dillard's at Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie in time for the holiday season. His date of arrival is not yet known.

" Dillard's just thought since he was such a popular thing, they decided to keep him on board," said Gilda Mares, a special-events coordinator for Dillard's in New Orleans. "It will be a good thing for the community."

Dillard's officials hope it will be a good thing for them, too. "We are excited about using him," said Wes Cherry, vice president for real estate at Dillard's.

Mr. Bingle was introduced to the New Orleans community at Christmastime in 1948.

He is the creation of local artist Emile F. Alline, Sr., who noticed during a visit to Chicago that other department stores had adopted mascots. He devised the story of a snowman brought to life by Santa Claus. Alline shared his idea with Maison Blanche officials, who liked the concept, but a customer contest to name the character was unsuccessful because store officials thought the mascot should have the initials M.B.

Mr. Bingle, taking the forms of a papier-mach figure, stuffed toys and costumed characters, has been an integral part of the holiday season at Maison Blanche stores. For decades his larger-than-life presence has been a Canal Street fixture gracing the facade of the downtown store. But the holiday mascot was in limbo after Mercantile Stores Inc., the parent company of Maison Blanche, was sold to Dillard's Inc. in August.

Except for the Canal Street store, Dillard's has put its name on local Maison Blanche stores and continues to operate them. The landmark Canal Street building is being converted by developers Whitehouse Hotel L.C. into a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, expected to open next year. The former Maison Blanche store is closed and one floor of the space will become a redeveloped retail mall featuring about 10 stores under the banner Maison Blanche Gallery of Shops, not owned by Dillard's.

The sponsors of Celebration in the Oaks were willing to take in the snowman as part of their annual holiday light show in City Park. The event attracts 400,000 visitors annually, and co-chairwoman Barbara Hammett said they received numerous phone calls saying Celebration in the Oaks would be an ideal way to continue the Mr. Bingle tradition. Even though Mr. Bingle won't be there, Hammett said she's glad the New Orleans tradition won't be eliminated.

" We're just delighted that he still will be here (in the New Orleans area). We were afraid he was not going to be used at all," Hammett said. "Had he been homeless, we wanted to make sure they knew he had a home here."

But Mr. Bingle had already broken out of the confines of New Orleans and gone national. For the past two holiday seasons Mercantile, of Fairfield, Ohio, used him in its holiday marketing in the company's 119 stores in 21 states. Dillard's plans to use the character only in the New Orleans area.

The Mr. Bingle costumes and other memorabilia, including the papier-mach figure housed at a Blaine Kern Carnival float warehouse, will be part of the store's holiday promotion, Mares said. The Bingle costumes will be used for the traditional Breakfast with Bingle promotions, and on Saturdays he'll be walking around Dillard's stores giving out peppermints.

Dillard's, based in Little Rock, Ark., has 350 stores.

©1998 The Times-Picayune Publishing Co. All rights reserved.
Used with permission of The Times-Picayune.

 

Special thanks to The Times-Picayune for their permission
to use these wonderful articles and photos for
"Jingle, Jangle Christmas!"

Click link below to visit their website
The Times-Picayune



A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas
A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas
A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas
A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas
A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas A Merry Christmas

(Ashleigh Austin's Personal Collection)
Ellen Clapsaddle Postcard
Postmark:  December 23, 1907
International Art Publishing Co.



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