Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pink Pig, Rich's and the Great Tree

Last Sunday night, even amid all sorts of horrible terrorist threats, Macy's had the lighting of the Great Tree. Now it is just called the Great Tree, but is used to be Rich's Great Tree.


 

This announcement made me reminisce about Rich's and about the Pink Pig.



The bright Pink Pig  - complete with a pig tail on the end car - took you on a small rail trip up and over the toy department where you could gaze down at all the toys. and boy, were there toys! Sparkling lights, and decorations made the whole experience very exciting.

Then you could visit Santa and tell him what you wanted for Christmas.

After that, you could go to the Secret Santa room where you picked out presents for your parents and they were wrapped (in secret, of course) and you parents paid for them, using what was called then, the charge plate.


The Great Tree was on the crystal bridge that joined the two Rich's buildings. And since it spanded Forsyth Street you could drive down the street and view the tree.



The lighting of the Great Tree was featured on the cover of the Dec 15, 1961 Time magazine.



No one tells the story of the lighting of the Rich's Great Tree better than Celestine Sibley in her book, Dear Store, An affectionate Portrait of Rich's.




But Patricia Walston wrote this beautiful account. And yes, they read the Bible.

The crowds would begin gathering long before the performance time. You would see people from all walks of life – the young, the old, the babies in carriages, toddlers sitting atop their father’s shoulders, the crippled in their wheelchairs; and even the blind being led around by family. They would all be waiting with great expectations, faces lifted upward, for the first words to be spoken.
There would be a hush beginning across the crowd at the voice of Bob Van Camp – a longtime organist for WSB who was also a radio announcer.
And he would begin…..
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus….
Then as he read the Christmas Story from the Bible, the first voices heard in response would be the voices of the children from the lowest bridge. And then he would read more Scripture and the next choir would sing on the second level. It would continue until the end of the Christmas Story; and by then the music would have traveled from the lowest to the topmost choir on the 5th floor.
And then the moment that everyone waited for – when the last words of the Scripture was read, a switch was thrown to the glory of the night sky and God, and the choirs would begin singing, “Silent Night, Holy Night – all is calm – all is bright – and the crowd below would chime in with their voices – 150,000 voices singing of that first Christmas night.

Pat

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