Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, August 29, 2010, pg. 5

From our this week we present a very unusual photo. Take a look. How would you caption this? How about: "Albion residents run for their lives as a Communist plane flies overhead? Or maybe: "Albion‘s first annual Festival of the Bricks was a running success, or "Albion youth finally take over the town. In any event, this is one of the most unusual historical photographs I have ever seen. Notice the small plane at the top of the photo.

The date is Friday, August 17, 1962. The Albion Chamber of Commerce was sponsoring a "ball drop as part of it‘s "Back to School promotion in downtown Albion. These light Styrofoam balls were dropped by Sam Friia (Albion merchant) and Don Derr (advertising salesman for the Albion Evening Recorder) from a small airplane high above Superior St. Out of the 850 balls dropped, 200 had numbers on them which were good for prizes at participating merchants.

When the balls were dropped at 9:30 a.m., Albion youth ran up and down Superior St. trying to retrieve them. There was confusion and scuffling in the crowd. It soon became apparent to many persons that the balls were landing on the roofs of downtown buildings rather than in the street as they were intended. There were complaints that the roofs of at least three buildings were accessed by youngsters in order to retrieve some of the balls there.

Concerned merchants didn‘t want their flat roofs destroyed by trampling feet, nor did they want any child to fall off the roof. The Chamber of Commerce committee quickly met, and decided that that ball drop for the next morning, Saturday, August 18 was to be accomplished by throwing the balls off the roof of the J. C. Penney store. Yours truly was there with my left-handed catcher‘s mitt and I remember this event distinctly. It was still chaos, and youth were fighting one another for those balls. Those in front had the best pickings where most of the balls fell right on the sidewalk. How many of our readers remember the ball drops , either by plane, or at J.C. Penney‘s?

Friday, August 17, 1962. Albion Chamber of Commerce Ball Drop

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - September 1910

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