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Archive for November, 2011

Ho, Ho, Ho! It’s time for Christmas Candylane.

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Every year in mid-November Hersheypark is transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Decorated with millions of lights, the park offers a chance to visit Santa and his reindeer, musical performances and holiday themed amusement rides.

The idea for Hersheypark Candylane grew out of the park’s desire to expand their season.  The concept was first proposed in 1976.  Paul Serff, retired Hersheypark General Manager, recalled in his oral history interview the impetus for the new attraction:

 

 

 We had for a number of years been working on trying things to (a) expand the season, if we could find ways of generating revenue.  We had an asset that was laying fallow a good portion of the year–the park–we, park management. So we tried to (a) extend the season and find new and better ways of using those assets. There was a fair amount of interest in doing it from a corporate level also, because a lot of the hotel business, in particular, was very slow. It’s a very slow convention time. So they were looking at ways to build up things in town.

 

 

The original vision for Candylane was to create a European style Christmas village. The goals were to extend the park season and produce additional income for the Park. The proposers envisioned creating a unique environment and attraction in Central Pennsylvania. The attraction would offer handmade merchandise, using local artisans and crafts vendors. Entertainment would involve strolling carolers, storytellers and appearances by the Furry Tales. Area choirs would give concerts at the Light Arcade. Food would be limited. Drawing on the European theme, the Park planned for the food to be ethnic, supplied by area ethnic organizations, and be a limited menu of not meals but rather breads, pastries, candies, etc. Of course visits with Santa would be a major attraction.  It launched on November 25, 1983 (the day after Thanksgiving).

 

Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane expanded slowly over the years. Hersheypark remained committed to its new attraction even after suffering through years when bad weather greatly reduced attendance.

Costumed characters greet guests in Lower Rhineland area of Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane.  ca.1990-2000

Costumed characters greet guests in Lower Rhineland area of Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane. ca.1990-2000

 

Today Hersheypark Candylane is part of a community wide Christmas in Hershey celebration that begins in mid-November and concludes on New Year’s day.

Henry Picard, bringing prestige to the Hershey Country Club

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On April 27, 1930 Milton Hershey launched the Hershey Country Club with a dinner party held at his home, High Point, for one hundred of his friends and associates. Mr. Hershey offered High Point for the clubhouse. The new club’s golf course was designed by noted golf architect, Maurice McCarthy. The course received high praise from golfers for its challenging fairways and holes.

 

Hershey Country Club sponsored the "Hershey Open," an invitational professional golf tournament, for several years between 1933 and 1940.

Hershey Country Club sponsored the "Hershey Open," an invitational professional golf tournament, for several years between 1933 and 1940.

 

In 1933 the club established the “Hershey Open,” an invitational professional tournament.  This tournament brought national attention and prestige to Hershey as a golf destination.  while the club had had a local golf pro since its opening, after the start of the “Hershey Open,” Hershey Country Club needed a more prestigious golfer to come serve as pro.

 

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Henry Picard, who would win the 1939 Masters and 1939 PGA Championship, became the club’s head professional on November 1, 1934. Hershey Country Club held a dinner dance to introduce him to the Club on April 27, 1935 (which then was the opening date for the golf season). Picard had played representing the Hershey Country Club through the 1934-1935 winter PGA tour season, but didn’t start teaching and living in Hershey until April 1935.

 

 

Because of Picard’s success, Hershey was considered by some to be the “Golf Capital of America.” Picard served as the pro for all of Hershey’s courses: the Hershey Country Club, Hershey Park Golf Club, Hotel Hershey Course, and the Juvenile Country Club (the only course at that time specifically for children). At the four golf courses, which were made up of 54 holes, Picard gave golf lessons to youth and adult amateur golfers in between tours. Nicknamed the Hershey “Hurricane,” Picard, a 26-time PGA Tour winner, served as pro until 1941, winning 22 of his 26 titles while in Hershey.

 

Henry Picard resigned from his position with the Hershey Country Club and recommended Ben Hogan as his replacement.  3/1941

Henry Picard resigned from his position with the Hershey Country Club and recommended Ben Hogan as his replacement. 3/1941

 

In the Spring of 1941 Henry Picard was advised by his doctor to live in a better climate for his health and he moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. To fill his position at Hershey he recommended the up and coming golfer, Ben Hogan, as his successor.