Pioneer broadcaster leaves legacy through Christmas City of the North Parade

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 2:22 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The Christmas City of the North Parade officially rings in the holiday season in the Northland, but 65 years ago it was created to support downtown Duluth businesses.

Longtime Duluthian Bob Rich created the parade in 1958.

“He’s probably still watching the parade from up above and totally stoked,” Bob’s granddaughter Pauli Custer said. “He’s probably really happy about it.”

Bob was the General Manager of KBJR for more than 30 years and also owned the station with a group of partners from 1974 to 1988.

He passed away in 1994.

“He was kind of known as Mr. Christmas, so what’s more to remember him by the parade,” Bob’s granddaughter Mary Rich-Raj said.

The parade now serves as a holiday tradition, bringing in thousands of people to watch the floats.

“I can’t believe it’s been 65 years, that just seems crazy to me,” Rich-Raj said. “I mean it’s been a part of my whole life growing up, but I’m very proud of him for coming up with the idea and for it to keep going for such a long time.”

Rich’s family will be the Grand Marshals in the 2023 Christmas City of the North Parade.

“To be able to be in the parade this year with both of my daughters is going to be really great to be there with everyone that I love, and just really showcasing what Duluth is about,” Bob’s granddaughter Jess Worden said.

Bob’s son, John Rich, said his dad was proud of Duluth and wanted the parade to bring people together in the Northland city.

“The thing is when the parade is over, it’s a nice, warm feeling,” John Rich said. “There’s more nice things to come during the holidays, so families get together and this is the start of the get together season.”

The Rich family said they all get together and watch the parade, either in-person or live streamed, each year, and enjoy remembering Bob’s legacy.

Watch the Christmas City of the North Parade Friday, Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. on KBJR. You can also watch it in person along Superior Street in downtown Duluth.

You find out more information about the parade here.

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