03 January 2003

Wanamaker's Light Show

The 1911 store is no longer the John Wanamaker's Department Store, but the grand old building still remains in center city Philadelphia, largely retaining its original grandeur, though in the hands of a different retail corporation.

And it still does house one of the world's largest pipe organs in its atrium...

...in the shadow of which Philadelphians continue to meet each other at the bronze eagle.

Gone, however, are Wanamaker's ten stories of shopping, reduced down to a mere three floors of clothing. Gone also is the sprawling toy department with its indoor monorail ride. And gone too is John Wanamaker's office, left untouched from the time of his death in 1922 until the store was bought out several years ago.

And yet, through all these changes and every year since 1956, the grand court of the store has drawn people to its Christmas light show, entertaining wide-eyed children with music and color.

We took Claire to see the show on New Year's day this year and she watched in wonder, squealing with glee as sugar-plum fairies, snowflakes, toy soldiers, and reindeer twinkled above.

The Christmas light show was a tradition for my family as I grew up and I hope it will be a tradition Claire comes to enjoy as well.