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Following is a report of the Parade of Progress visit to Galveston, Texas in February of 1955, submitted by GM Advance Man, T.C. Van Voorhis to W.E. Hamdlton in Detroit. While the Galveston turnout was hampered by cold and high winds, the account does provide an excellent record of what went on behind the scenes.

Galveston, Texas report, February 16, 1955.

    21,536 persons attended the Galveston showing. This attendance represents a disappointing 32.3% of the city's population as computed by the 1950 census.
    28 show hours were scheduled , however only 22.5 show hours were actually held. On opening night the show was closed at 9:30 p.m. because of cold weather -- 1/2 show hours lost. During the night strong winds up to 50 mph caused damage to the Aer-O-Dome tent. Repairs on the tent forced cancellation of all stage shows on Friday 2/11/55. 4 show hours were held of the 9 hours scheduled; 5 show hours lost. Show closed 5 p.m. 2/11/55.
    Generally unfavorable weather conditions during the showing was the main reason for the disappointing attendance. Night time temperatures were extremely cold and damp and crowds were poor however, the weekend attendance was good during the day when fair weather prevailed.
    The visibility of the Alamo School grounds show site was good but facilities for parking were poor. This was the best show site we could have selected in Galveston because of its well known location and the fact that we had no other desirable sites to chose from in the city.

    The following promotional materials were ordered in connection with the Galveston showing: 550 one sheet (window posters, 1,400 bulletin board posters and 2,075 easel back posters. In addition, 20-24 sheet billboard posters were ordered. Mailing pieces totaled more than 17,000 with three dealer lists serviced by direct mail. One local dealer along ordered 10,000 mailing pieces (bulk shipment) and 1,000 easel back posters. The mailing pieces were intended to be distributed through local super markets.
    Although excellent cooperation and assistance was given by local and all Galveston Co. dealers, retail merchants, Chamber of Commerce officials and schools in the use and distribution of all promotional materials, it was very evident from the start that a large over-abundance of promotional material had been ordered that could not possibly be used or distributed in a city of the size and population of Galveston. It is the opinion of the Advance Representative that about one half of the actual promotional materials ordered for this showing would have been adequate amount for good use and distribution. In order to avoid this overage of Parade promotional materials being ordered in the future it is suggested that it be emphasized at the direst dealer meeting that orders be based on individual use and distribution of the materials available in relation to the number of dealers participating in the show's promotional program.
    Another good method of determining amounts of promotional materials which are both reasonable and proper would be to check on cities of comparable size and population where the Parade has shown and make the comparison at the dealer meeting to give those participating somewhat of an idea as to what they might order.
    Very excellent cooperation in handling the distribution of promotional materials to all Galveston Co. dealers was made possible through the assistance of Mr. W. M. Davis, Branch Manager, GMAC and staff of field representatives. Parade promotional materials were delivered to dealers in the following communities on the mainland: Texas City, LaMarque, Alvin, Dickinson, & League City. This includes a trading areas of approximately 35 miles around Galveston.
    Galveston city and county schools received and displayed bulletin board posters which were distributed through the Superintendent's office and the Board of Education. Facts Digests were distributed to member of the teaching staffs of city and county schools through the office of the superintendent of schools.
    The Chamber of Commerce gave excellent support to the local promotional program as evidence by the attached letter which was mailed to approximately 100 local retail merchants and manufacturers. It is estimated that from 20 - 25% replies came to the Advance Representative requesting poster materials for use in windows, counters, etc.

    Three news releases were mailed to four weekly newspapers in Galveston County. Different mats were supplied with each release.
    The Texas City Sun (daily) and the LaMarque Times (weekly) gave good pre-arrival publicity and covered the opening performance. The Texas City Sun carried a front page photo of Parade Director J.E. Ryan being greeted on arrival in T.C. by the Mayor and Chamber of Commerce officials (2/10/55). Out-of-town tear sheets have been requested but have not been received.
    Very excellent press coverage was given in both Galveston daily papers - News (a.m.) and Tribune (p.m.). Pre-arrival coverage was good and daily coverage during the showing was excellent. Front page stories were the rule rather than the exception.
    Tear sheets from both Galveston daily papers indicate a total 4,777 column inches. This includes nineteen photos; five photos appearing on Page One. There were ten front page stories.

    Ads appeared as scheduled in both Galveston Daily papers. Tear sheets have been turned over to the Parade offices and one set has been forwarded to the Central Office.

    Eleven Galveston County, /collectively, participating in running one full page ad which appeared in the Galveston Tribune (p.m.) 2/9/55 and the Galveston news (a.m.) 2/10/55.
    One local dealer ran one 420 line ad which appeared in both local papers on 2/11/55.

    Radio/TV coverage was very good during the Galveston showing. Attached are schedules of public service publicity devoted to the Parade by KGUL-TV and KGBC radio.

    Tuesday 2/8/55 -- Two lecturers presented Parade of Progress assembly program before Texas City High school students.
    Tuesday 2/8/55 -- Two lecturers spoke at Texas City Rotary Club luncheon. Demonstrations given (jumping rubber and bologna bottle).
    Tuesday 2/8/55 -- Two lecturers spoke at Galveston Kiwanis Club luncheon and presented demonstrations (jumping rubber & bologna bottle).
Monday 2/7/55 -- Advance representative and lecturer spoke at Galveston Exchange Club. Jumping rubber & bologna bottle demonstrations given.
    Saturday 2/12/55 -- Distinguished visitors at the Parade of Progress included Mr. & Mrs. E.L. Hechtermans, Counsel General of the Netherlands from New Orleans, (Page One news and photo story appeared in Galveston News Sun. 2/13/55.)

RECEPTION COMMITTEE -- ARRIVAL PARADE -- Wednesday, February 9, 1955
    The Parade was routed through Texas City en route to Galveston where a 15 minute stop was made at the high school to meet civic officials were were invited to ride in the parade through the business district. Mayor L. A. Robinson, Chamber of Commerce representatives and GM dealers of Texas City and nearby La Marque were on hand to welcome the caravan.
    A representative group composed of civic officials, GM dealers and members of the press greeted the caravan at the Galveston pickup point at 11:00 a.m. City officials present were: Mayor Herbert Y. Cartwright, Jr., Thomas F. Juneman, Commissioner of Streets, E.R. Baron, Commissioner of Finance, Mr. J. Davis Hill, Superintendent of Public Schools, and Mr. E.J. Pennington, Sr., President of the Galveston Chamber of Commerce. Following this official welcome at the parade pickup point, members of the reception committee rode in the downtown street parade to the show site.

OPENING PERFORMANCE -- Thursday, February 10, 1955
    2,290 persons braved cold temperatures and strong winds to attend the special opening performance Thursday night, 2/10/55. Weather reports during the day indicating that a cold front accompanied by strong northwest winds was due to arrive on opening night were 100% correct and many people undoubtedly were discouraged from attending the first showing who had previously planned to do so. 500 reserved seats were set aside for invited guests at the first tent show, although more than 750 acceptances were received on the reply cards sent out with the invitation letter.
    H.P. Grenda, GM Public Relations Regional Manager from Dallas served as master of ceremonies and introduced Mayor Herbert Y. Cartwright, Jr. who welcomed the Parade to Galveston. John E. Ryan spoke briefly on purposes, background and philosophy of the Parade of Progress and introduced Dale Stevenson who presented the first stage show.

SPECIAL SCHOOL SHOWINGS -- Friday, February 11, 1955
    1,375 students from the following schools attended special showings from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
    Due to damage to the Aer-O-Dome tent caused by strong winds (up to 50 mph), late Thursday night it was necessary to cancel all stage shows scheduled Friday. Court exhibits were operated from school groups attending in the morning. due to the extreme cold temperatures and cancellation of tent shows the Advance Representative notified all schools scheduled to attend special showings in the afternoon and advised them of the situation and urged them not to attend. Central H.S. was scheduled to attend a 2 p.m. showing estimating 900 students. Rosenberg JHS with 800 students was scheduled to attend the 1 p.m. tent show. a total of 1,700 students were to have attended special showings Friday afternoon.
    Arrangements for the scheduling of these special school showings were made with the excellent assistance and cooperation of Mr. J. Davis Hill, Superintendent of Galveston Public Schools and the principals of the individual schools scheduled to attend.

  Very excellent Press, radio and TV cooperation was given prior to the Parade's arrival and throughout the showing in Galveston. Front page news and picture stories were the rule rather than the exception following the show's arrival.
    Fine cooperation and assistance was given the Advance Representative by local Galveston Co. GM dealers in support of the Parade's promotional program. Excellent cooperation was received from GMAC branch office personnel and the Galveston Chamber of Commerce officials.
    It was unfortunate that special school showings schedule for Friday afternoon 2/11/55 had to be canceled due to the cold temperatures and damages to the Aer-O-Dome tent. We did have the weather against us here and it was impossible to beat the unfavorable conditions.
    In spite of these unfavorable weather conditions which were primarily responsible for the low attendance it is believe that our Galveston showing was a good one because the people who did see the Parade of Progress were the right people in Galveston. The Parade of Progress is the talk of the town and some very fine comments have been heard from civic officials, business people and educators. public reaction has been excellent toward the show and to Parade personnel.

    Two multi-colored lot signs were erected on the show site at the Alamo School Grounds on Wednesday Feb. 2, 1955. An 8' x 12' sign was placed at the front of the lot near the Theme center and smaller 6' x 10' sign was erected near the back of the lot. Both signs had excellent visibility from two main thoroughfares. Both permanent type signs were removed from the show site and shipped to Austin for use again in that city.

    Printing -- Multigraphic POP news releases (3), printing, stuffing, stamping, sealing two invitation letters, press reception and special opening reply postal cards and admission cards, $150.83
    Press Receptions -- February 1, 1955, Hotel Galveston Club Room, $164.70
    Photography -- Arrival parade through Texas City and Galveston. Special opening performance and events during show, $114.00
    Signs -- Two en route banners from Beaumont. Painting and erection of two signs at show site. Signs removed and shipped to Austin for use again in that city, $122.00.
    All outstanding bills received following departure of Parade of Progress will be forwarded immediately to H.M. De Fer, Business Manager.
    Miscellaneous Expenses: Installation of lines for remote broadcasts from Alamo School Grounds show site by radio station KGBC, $17.60. bill to be submitted to H.M. De Fer.

    Attached is a list of those persons to whom special letters of appreciation should be sent.

    Captions of all photos taken during the Galveston showing have been forwarded to Morley Warren.

LOT CONDITION - DEPARTURE - Wednesday, February 16, 1955
    On Wednesday morning, following the departure of the Parade of Progress from the Galveston show site, known as the Alamo School Grounds, the Advance Representative met with Mr. Eugene Jackson, Business manger for the Galveston Public Schools and Mr. Alvin Marchak, Principal of the Alamo Elementary School to determine the condition of the show site. The grounds were carefully surveyed and were found to be in excellent condition. There were no damages whatsoever to this show site. Both gentlemen were highly complimentary toward the exhibits and the personnel of the Parade of progress.
    There are many new friends of General Motors in Galveston who would like to have the Parade of Progress return for another visit.

Thomas C. Van Voorhis, Advance Representative

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