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Blakeview: The 70th anniversary of Mr. Bingle 

Emile Alline created the Maison Blanche icon

This holiday season marks the 70th anniversary of the debut of a Crescent City Christmas character who is still going strong: Mr. Bingle. The little snowman with the ice cream cone hat and holly wings originally was a holiday mascot for the Maison Blanche department store. The concept came from Emile Alline, the store's display director, who was inspired by the mascots of other retail chains, including Marshall Field's Uncle Mistletoe and Montgomery Ward's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Mr. Bingle (whose initials matched the store's) made his debut during the 1948 holiday season, appearing in store advertising and on a 50-foot version of the mascot displayed on the front of the Canal Street store (now the Ritz-Carlton hotel). Mr. Bingle had his own theme song, which began with the words "Jingle, jangle jingle." Edwin "Oscar" Isentrout, a Bourbon Street entertainer and puppeteer, developed a marionette version and gave Mr. Bingle his voice. Dolls and other Bingle-themed merchandise followed. Mr. Bingle even starred in his own daily TV shows for children. Dillards bought the Maison Blanche chain in 1998, and for a few years the giant fiberglass Mr. Bingle was mounted outside Lakeside Shopping Center. In 2005, he was refurbished and donated to City Park's Celebration in the Oaks.

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