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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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NATIVITY SCENE. The famous community Christmas Crib was first displayed in a window of the Frommelt Awning Company on lower Main Street. In 1942 attempts to display the scene outside led weathering to destroy the figures. During WORLD WAR II, a crib stood near a huge Christmas tree-a memorial to Dubuque servicemen and women.

The CATHOLIC MOTHERS STUDY CLUBS was encouraged by the late Edward Graham, then president of the Downtown Association, to purchase lifesize figures. These statues lasted until 1977.

With the development of KENNEDY MALL, the cost of erecting the scene, estimated between $850 and $1000, became prohibitive for the remaining downtown merchants. A Community Christmas Crib Committee was formed including Rev. Anthony Sigwarth, dean of the Dubuque Deanery and pastor of SAINT MARY'S CHURCH; Gent Wittenberg, president of the Dubuque Council of Churches; Rev. Reginald Masterson, ARCHDIOCESE OF DUBUQUE director of spiritual renewal; and Mrs. Auleen EBERHARDT.

A generous contribution from FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE allowed construction of the Christmas Crib in WASHINGTON PARK the day after Thanksgiving in 1977. A citywide appeal led to a collection of $1,800-money used to purchase new figures.

The Crib has been the center of many caroling activities during the Christmas season. Hundreds have been drawn to Washington Park the second Sunday in December for the annual "flashlight march" ending in front of the crib to sing" Away in A Manger."

Erection of the scene for twenty years was the responsibility of Ron Kann, a Dubuque firefighter. Upon his retirement, the responsibility was assumed by the Dubuque chapter of the Pioneers of the Telephone Company, a service organization of retired and present telephone company employees.