The Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands Christmas Marathon was an outgrowth of the earlier broadcast Spotlight Bands program. During the 1930’s Christmas Radio Shows, the Coca-Cola company began to broadcast several radio variety and musical shows. By 1941, the company realized the growing numbers of youth craved new styles of music. During that year, Coca-Cola embarked on creating a show that would satisfy the new American music hunger. With the help of their advertising agency, The Darcy Agency, Coca-Cola developed a plan and entered into a contract with the Mutual Broadcasting Network (MBN). The choice to go with MBN resulted from the fact that their affiliate stations outnumbered those of any other network at the time. Unlike its contemporaries, who chose to feature only one band, the Coca-Cola company developed a program that would feature a different band with every broadcast. The Spotlight of Bands show aired every night, with the exception of Sunday.
After the success of its initial season, Coca-Cola decided to continue with a new season in the fall of 1942. At the time, the U.S. had become heavily involved in World War II. Wanting to acknowledge the war effort, Coca-Cola changed the name of the show to Victory Parade Spotlight of Bands. It also entered into a new contract with the Blue Network, a division of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Reaching out to military personnel and the workers in war factories and weapons depots, Coca-Cola switched from studio broadcasting to broadcasting on location. Bands performed in a different location every night and the locations were connected in some way, to the war effort. Armed forces personnel stationed on bases or at other locations were able to enjoy commercial free broadcasts of the program, courtesy of the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS). The AFRS recorded edited versions of the program onto discs that could be sent out to the various military installations. Later, Coca-Cola supplied stand-by discs to fill in the nights when broadcasting had been cancelled.
On Christmas Day 1942, Coca-Cola broadcast their Victory Parade Christmas Spotlight of Bands. The event was billed as, Uncle Sam’s Christmas Tree Spotlight of Bands. The marathon began at noon on Christmas Day and continued until midnight. It is estimated that more than 40 bands performed that day. Over the years, the Victory Parade Spotlight of Bands underwent several changes. By 1945, it had been shortened to a broadcast of only three nights a week and a year before the show ended it went back to its original broadcasting network, MBN. Coca-Cola aired its final show in December of 1946.