President Coolidge Visits Wausau

209 Washington St Wausau

Marathon County Historical Society
Written By Marathon County Historical Society

Marathon County Historical Society- home of the Yawkey House Museum & The Woodson History Center.

Calvin Coolidge Comes to Wausau

On August 15, 1928, a crowd gathered outside Wausau’s Chicago & Northwestern Depot. They eagerly awaited the arrival of a train, which would bring the First Family of the United States to Marathon County.

President Calvin Coolidge had been on a vacation in Superior with his wife and son, and was scheduled to briefly stop in Wausau to make a speech. Wausau had been chosen to host the tenth annual convention of Wisconsin’s chapter of the American Legion. The three day event was more than just a meeting of the American Legionaries to conduct annual business, it was also an extravagant celebration of all that the Wausau area had to offer. One newspaper article assured the approximately 800 visiting women of the Auxiliary that Wausau would not lack for things to keep them entertained:

"For the hundreds of women who will attend the American Legion convention just as visitors, there is much of interest and entertainment. Airplanes will be ready to take them [the ladies] on sight-seeing trips over the city at all times, there will be band concerts practically all of the time, swimming at beaches, golf at the country club, saddling, shopping, cabaret entertainment and dancing."

The official events also included a drum corps competition and fireworks displays at Marathon Park, dances and dinner at the Rothschild Pavilion, and all sorts of other entertainment across the city.

The biggest event was a “mammoth parade” scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, which was lauded as “the largest, best the State has ever presented.” There were an estimated 3,000 participants in the parade that staged on the south end of 6th and Forest Street, which included some 30 bands and drum corps. After the first of the parade passed by, led by a mounted Col. C.C. Yawkey, it took 45 minutes for the parade to end.

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The crowd that greeted the Presidential train on Wednesday was set to form up another parade to escort Coolidge to Marathon Park. It was smaller than the previous day's parade, but was just as eagerly looked for by the people of and visitors to Wausau.

Upon arriving at the grandstands, where thousands of spectators had gathered, the President took a seat on the stage. And at the appointed time, he took the podium and gave a speech.

As one might expect at a gathering of veterans of the Great War, President Coolidge started his speech by praising the efforts of the American Legion. And although he was not in Wausau to stump for a candidate or campaign for anyone, Coolidge spent much of his speech defending the actions of his administration--from foreign policy he claimed could keep the peace, to the austerity shown in domestic matters.

After the speeches were finished, the First Family were driven back to the depot, and resumed their trip to return back to the capital. But as brief as the visit was, it was the first time a sitting President of the United States had come to Wausau. And the people gathered for the event went away happy to have been present for what one writer called, "the greatest occasion in the history of Wausau."

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