A holiday outing you looked forward to as a child
The outings I most remember are the trips I would take each year with my mom and my grandmother (my mother’s mom) to see the Christmas displays in Philadelphia. We would hop on the Patco High Speed Line near our home in Jersey and 20 minutes later we would be in center city Philadelphia right beneath 8th and Market Street. I remember climbing the stairs from the subway station being completely awestruck. The hustle and bustle of the city combined with the holiday decorations was mesmerizing.
The windows of the stores were filled with elaborate displays; fancy dresses and toys and little Christmas scenes. Remember the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie has his nose pressed against the store window ogling the Red Rider B-B Gun? That was me! Mom had to drag me away.
Our first stop would be the light show at Wanamakers department store. Every two hours this magical show with music and lights and colored fountains would play in the center of the first floor. You had squeeze in and find a comfortable place to sit or stand, if you were a kid you could usually get away with sitting on the bottom of the displays. By the time the show ended (I think it was about ten minutes) I always had a kink in my neck from looking up but I didn’t mind at all! You can still see the light show now almost the same as it was then only now the store is owned by Macy’s instead of Wanamakers.
Next stop was lunch in the restaurant on the upper level of Strawbridge and Clothiers, usually just sandwiches and tea. My grandmother loved their tuna club! I was usually too anxious to eat much.
After lunch we would head to my favorite place-Lit Brothers Enchanted Christmas village! Display after display of holiday scenes, candy shops, toy shops and anything else you could imagine. We would walk along a little wooden fence gaping at the animatronic people and animals enjoying their Christmas celebrations. I could have stayed there all day but unfortunately there were lots of other excited children waiting in line behind me.
For some really great old photos of the Enchanted village check out this neat blog called Life in the So-Called Space Age.
Unfortunately Lit Brothers closed down and the Village was relegated to a basement or storage area and all but forgotten. For a while it was in the care of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Then disappeared again. Recently though, I’ve heard that parts have resurfaced, one section in Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum.
I’m glad that other children will get to enjoy it. I would like to see it again in its original state, all together but I guess it would never look the same as it did when I was eight.