Friday, July 1, 2016

The city of Cedar Springs, Michigan holds an annual Red Flannel Festival in October of each year. My family visited there when I was a teenager. Dad bought my brothers and me red Union Suits from the Red Flannel Factory. We put them on and got to run around town the entire week-end in just our underwear! Where else can you do that?  We boys had a great time. So did mom and dad.

Back then and from early on nearly everyone who attended the Festival wore their long, red one-piece underwear. Now days few people attend in their underwear. Most just wear red shirts, hoodies, socks, etc. If you don't, the Keystone Kops will toss you in jail. 

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.

In more recent days since few attendees appear in their Long Red Underwear, the Festival is not as fun or amusing as back in the day. 

The last time we attended the festival the boy
playing the guitar had donned a bright red Union Suit

1 comment:

  1. Michael emailed me to report that he grew up in Cedar Springs in the 1980's. He and his best friends never missed a Red Flannel Festival. "We always wore our red Union Suits that weekend all over town," he wrote. His family moved after he graduated from high school and he has not been back since. He said he is disappointed to learn that few people who attend now days fail to wear their long red underwear as this was a tradition for at least 50 years.