The concept was simple: Hilton, then 32, wanted to create a winter carnival similar to what he had in college at Dartmouth. He pitched the idea, and his plan caught on; influential downtown business owners and others contributed substantially.Here is just one of a seemingly endless series of disasters:
To create a festive atmosphere, the concept was to close five blocks of Franklin Street and cover it in ice and snow.
Before the show, the governor of Minnesota promised to ship "The Nation's Tallest Christmas Tree" to Franklin Street. Bad idea.
A logging company built a makeshift road through the North Woods and felled a tree, then a bulldozer pulled the tree along the road toward railroad tracks. There the tree was loaded onto a train to Tampa.
Unfortunately, the tree snapped when the train rounded a bend in central Indiana.
The governor decided to try again. But road conditions had deteriorated, and the bulldozer sank in a quagmire and couldn't be retrieved until spring.
Politics came to the rescue. The mayor of Duluth, considering a run against the governor, offered a tree.
The third tree made it safely to Tampa, where it was to be raised on Franklin Street. Engineers dug into the road to provide a stable resting place, and everything appeared to be fine. The tree was gently placed into the hole.
Suddenly, the tree sank - right through a city sewer line.