With an ice cream cone as a hat, wings of holly and an ever-present candy cane, the snowman character “Mr. Bingle,” is a touchstone of childhood for many New Orleanians and a reminder of Canal Street’s past as a grand shopping corridor.
Mr. Bingle was the brainchild of Maison Blanche’s window-display manager Emile Alline. Alline created Mr. Bingle — a Santa’s helper — as a Christmas mascot for the department store in 1948. Puppeteer Edwin “Oscar” Isentrout brought Mr. Bingle to life during puppet shows in the store’s toy department at Christmastime. The snowman was also featured on television and in radio commercials.
Maison Blanche hung a huge Mr. Bingle outside the department store, now The Ritz Carlton, until Dillard’s, which bought out Maison Blanche, closed the store.
For a short time, the 17-foot-tall and 29-foot-high fiberglass snowman was hung outside the Dillard’s store at Lakeside Mall in Metairie. Dillard’s gave Mr. Bingle to Friends of City Park and the iconic snowman is on display every year for the park’s Celebration in the Oaks. “We feed him all the marshmallows he can eat,” says John Hopper, spokesman for the park.