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Archive for August, 2013

Looking Back: Hershey Park Kiddie Week

One of the first Kiddie rides added to Hershey Park was a children’s boat ride.  ca.1926-1935

One of the first Kiddie rides added to Hershey Park was a children’s boat ride. ca.1926-1935

 

 

Rides specially designed for children began to be added to Hershey Park beginning in 1926.  That same year Hershey Park featured its first Kiddie Day.   Children 12 years old and younger could register and receive a ticket that would give them free rides and special treats.

 

In 1929 Hershey Park expanded its Kiddie Day to an entire Kiddie Week that was held each year in late August.  In addition to the expanded time, special entertainment was scheduled at the Bandshell for the week.  Kiddie Week was part of Hershey Park’s summer  events through 1972.

 

Kiddie Week was a highlight for many Hershey children.  Millie Coyle Landis remembered:

Even though the entrance to the park was free, you still had to pay for the rides.  But that didn’t bother us.  We just went and watched other people have fun on the rides.  [Laughter]  But on kiddies’ day, I remember getting in line and waiting for a strip of tickets, and you got ten tickets and you had these free rides, and you could go every day for the whole week.  That was the big thing for us when we were kids.  [Laughter]

The merry-go-round was there.  That was the most favorite one.  I remember airplane rides, The Bug, the Fun House.  There were some [tickets] that nobody even used.  They used to throw them away.  You could find them laying there.  Like at the zoo.  Nobody went to the zoo.  There was a zoo ticket on there, and nobody went to the zoo.  [Laughter]  I don’t remember.  They were mostly the children’s rides.  They weren’t big things, anything that cost like over ten cents.  I think the biggest thing was The Bug and the carousel and the airplane rides.   There was something called the Whip.  The roller coaster was not on the strip.  No, it wasn’t.  No, it was just the cheap rides.  [Laughter] 

 

Baby Parade in progress at the Hershey Sports Arena.  1950

Baby Parade in progress at the Hershey Sports Arena. 1950

 

As Kiddie Week grew in popularity, Hershey Park expanded the program.  In 1936 Hershey introduced its Baby Parade.  The first Baby Parades were held in Ocean City, New Jersey.  The seaside baby parades were held on the boardwalk and served as an ingenious way for proud parents to brag about their children without offending anyone.

 

Hershey’s Baby Parade began at the Miniature Railroad Station as children under five years old either walked or rode on parade throughout the Park and concluded by crossing the Bandshell floor to the music provided by the Hershey Community Theatre Orchestra.

 

Hershey Park General Manager, George Bartels, presents the cutest baby award to Kyle Ann Katzenmoyer.  1956

Hershey Park General Manager, George Bartels, presents the cutest baby award to Kyle Ann Katzenmoyer. 1956

Hershey Park Baby Parade, ca.1950-1960

Hershey Park Baby Parade, ca.1950-1960

Hershey Park Baby Parade, 1955

Hershey Park Baby Parade, 1955

 

There were a variety of prizes including ones for cutest baby, fanciest baby carriage, best fancy costume, most original decorated carriage, fattest baby and best comic costume.  Beginning in 1947 the Baby Parade took place in the Sports Arena.

 

The Baby Parade was eagerly anticipated by many.  Local resident, Helen (Menicheschi) Cappelli, shared some vivid memories of the Baby Parade:

 

They really didn’t have [Baby Parades] when I was a little girl, but my children were involved in it.  My Elaine, she won a prize.  Yes, I remember I had her dressed in a little lavender dress with pink bows in her hair.  Then her little doll cart, we decorated that with the same colors that she was wearing, and she won a prize.  Yes, she did.  I remember that day.  It was a pretty hard day, because it was in the afternoon and it was her nap time.  So, oh, my goodness, she really carried on, you know.  See, they kept on bringing them back up on the bandstand, you know, to walk around, to choose the ones that were supposed to get the prizes, so they called her up and they called her up.  Oh!  This didn’t go over well with her.   So finally, they chose.  But she got the prize.

Baby Parades and Kiddie Week were discontinued after the 1972 season.   Hersheypark was actively being redeveloped as a themed amusement park and many traditional park events were no longer offered.

 

It’s wonderful good: Hershey’s Dutch Days

Hershey's Dutch Days celebrated the crafts and traditions of the Pennsylvania German community.  August 21-22-23, 1952

Hershey’s Dutch Days celebrated the crafts and traditions of the Pennsylvania German community. August 21-22-23, 1952

 

Hershey’s first Pennsylvania Dutch Day was held on August 27, 1949.  It grew out of a Pennsylvania Dutch language class held during the winter of 1948-1949 as part of the Derry Township evening school.  Upon completion of the course, the class suggested holding a gathering in Hershey Park that summer to thank  leaders responsible for offering the class.  A few displays were set up in the Hershey Arena, most of them borrowed or owned by class members.  The planners estimated that perhaps 2,500 people would come see the displays which included hand-painted works from the art class, donated quilts and kitchen utensils.  However, 25,000 people turned out that day.  The success of that one day affair led to its expansion to three days the following year.

 

Table tent advertisement for 1963 Dutch Days

Table tent advertisement for 1963 Dutch Days

 

Dutch Days showcased the authentic arts, crafts, and customs of the early Pennsylvania German pioneers who settled South Central Pennsylvania.

 

Hershey Park Arena showcased a wide variety of Pennsylvania "Dutch" crafts such as quilting.  ca.1966

Hershey Park Arena showcased a wide variety of Pennsylvania “Dutch” crafts such as quilting. ca.1966

 

The festival offered a wide range of crafts and activities that celebrated the “Dutch” way of life such as apple butter making, threshing, quilting, pottery, musical concerts and, of course, food.  Dutch Days grew into a true community wide event with activities taking place in Hershey Park, Hershey Arena and Stadium, and the Hershey Community Building.  Various community organizations got involved and held fund raisers by offering Pennsylvania Dutch treats and dinners.

 

Pennsylvania German Band on route to the Hershey Park Bandstand. 1960

Pennsylvania German Band on route to the Hershey Park Bandstand. 1960

 

During Dutch Days evening concerts were held at the Hershey Park Bandstand and the Ballroom offered square dancing with old time fiddlers.  Dutch Days was administered by a volunteer committee.  In spite of the ever‑expanding scope of activities, for many years no admission was charged to any of the events.  Dutch Days was last held in 1979.