The Red Flannel Story
It all began in 1936 in the midst of “the worst winter in years.” The whole country suffered in the grip of heavy show and sub-zero temperatures. A New York feature writer bemoaned the “fact” that, “Here we are in the midst of an old-fashioned winter and there are no red flannels in the USA to go with it.”
The local newspaper, The Cedar Springs Clipper, owned and edited by “The Clipper Gals” Nina Babcock and Grace Hamilton answered the writer with a RED HOT editorial stating, “Just because Sak’s Fifth Avenue does not carry red flannels, it doesn’t follow that no one in the country does. CEDAR SPRINGS’ merchants have red flannels!”
The story was picked up by The Associated Press and orders began pouring in from all over the USA.
Jack Pollock and his wife Ann, owners of Pollock’s Store in downtown Cedar Springs, had a large stock of Red Flannels. They were tireless supporters of the early Red Flannel Festivals and “drop seaters.”
Seeing the possibility of at least a few years of publicity because of our famous “drop seaters” and lumbering history, a “RED FLANNEL DAY” was planned for the fall of 1939. The love, pride and support of the community has kept the rich tradition alive! It has continued to be an annual event, held the last weekend in September and the first weekend in October for the 71st YEAR, making it the 15th oldest festival in the State of Michigan!
The Festival Board of Directors thanks all of the sponsors of the Festival and the hundreds of volunteers who make this grand event possible!
The MOST FAMOUS ICON of the Red Flannel Festival, the Keystone Kops, drive an Antique Fire truck arresting everyone not wearing RED! Be on the lookout and prepared with $1 in “bail money” to pay for the “get out of jail free” button!
The Order of the Red Flannel Knights of the Red Flannel Drawers
The first Red Flannel Day was held Nov. 11, 1939 and Carleton Cady wrote in that issue of the Grand Rapids Press:
“Lurid lingerie adorned the limbs of nearly every citizen. Scarlet certificates of knighthood were issued to members of the Order of Knights of the Red Flannel Drawers, who proudly wore the badge, which, in miniature, reproduced the article that on winter Monday’s flies from Cedar Springs’ clotheslines.”
Their password was “itch”. Dr. C. W. Brayman, James H. Cook and Jack Pollock were some of the first members in good standing, crowning the first Red Flannel Queen, Maxine Smith.
History is important, it provides a link between the past and present. This year, the Red Flannel Board of Directors is proud to revive the Order of the Knights of the Red Flannel Drawers with a swearing in ceremony and buttons, mugs and shirts with this special logo!
Reprinted with permission from Sue Harrison & Donna DeJong from The Cedar Springs Story