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Northlanders come down with catchy holiday tune

It's contagious and it's most prevalent this time of year. It's not the flu -- oh no, it's far more consuming than that. "Christmas city, Wonderful city. All wrapped up in snow and mistletoe." That's right, the Christmas City of the North Song ha...

It's contagious and it's most prevalent this time of year. It's not the flu -- oh no, it's far more consuming than that.

"Christmas city, Wonderful city. All wrapped up in snow and mistletoe." That's right, the Christmas City of the North Song has spread all around Duluth.

Ever since last Friday's parade, Duluthians have been humming the tune -- at home, in the car, on the bus and walking down the street.

Where did this song come from and who is that dapper sounding gentleman we all try to emulate? (Especially on the, "snow and mistletoe," part.)

In 1962, "Christmas City" was commissioned by KBJR News 6, who produces the Christmas City of the North Parade annually on the Friday before Thanksgiving. The station still holds the rights today.

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The song signals the beginning of the holiday season in the Northland, and has been played every year since it inception, with the exception of 1963 when the parade and song were muted due to President Kennedy's assassination.

Don Peterson, a songwriter originally from Hibbing and later New York, wrote the words and music, and Merv Griffin is the crooner behind the Christmas chords.

Along with his many umbrella interests including: hotels, television, radio, casino resorts, thoroughbred breeding and more, Griffin, of the Griffin Group, evidently enjoys singing about Duluth. Griffin got a hold of the song through relatives and friends in the Great Lakes area.

In 2004, Griffin told Lake Superior Magazine that he has "wonderful memories of Duluth and the recording of 'Christmas City.'"

In 1997, a fire at KBJR threatened to destroy the original recordings, but the reel-to-reel tape was salvaged and reformatted into digital preservation.

The "B" side of the record includes a lesser known tune, also written by Peterson, called "The Song of the Christmas City."

"Christmas city, Wonderful city," is rarely heard outside of the parade context, but you can hear it anytime you'd like to by going to the KBJR Web site, www.new6.tv , and clicking on News Links.

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