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Archive for October 10th, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

President Eisenhower slices a piece of birthday cake in Hershey.  10/13/1953

President Eisenhower slices a piece of birthday cake in Hershey. 10/13/1953

 

Hershey’s central location in Pennsylvania, its public venues and its ability to receive and house 1000s of visitors at any one moment, has made our community a natural choice for hosting a wide variety of large scale events throughout its history.

 

Many of these events have brought national attention to our town.

 

This was particularly true in 1953 when the National Republican Party hosted a birthday party for sitting President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

 

The birthday party was planned for 1000s of attendees and the celebration was held in three different venues in Hershey:  Hershey Stadium, Hershey Sports Arena and in a Barnum and Bailey Ringling Brothers Big Top Tent erected especially for the event.

 

Entrance to the Eisenhower birthday Big Top, 10/13/1953

Entrance to the Eisenhower birthday Big Top, 10/13/1953

 

While the event was organized by the National Republican Party, it was a home grown affair.

 

Program: President Dwight D. Eisenhower Birthday Party, 10/13/1953

Program: President Dwight D. Eisenhower Birthday Party, 10/13/1953

 

In the Stadium, which was open free to the public, 12,000-14,000 guests enjoyed golfing demonstrations by some of the country’s leading golfers, including former Hershey Country Club pro, Ben Hogan.  Attendees also enjoyed concerts by six Pennsylvania marching bands, including the Lebanon High School State champions.

 

The Big Top dinner was organized as a fundraiser for the Republican Party with tickets priced at $100 per plate.  The centerpiece of the decorations was a huge 24 foot high and 40 foot wide wooden “cake” containing bushels of colorful Pennsylvania fruits and vegetables.  Dinner was an original farm to table event with roast beef, mushrooms, peas, potatos and coleslaw.

 

Hershey High School’s yearbook devoted a page to remembering President Eisenhower’s birthday party. Choclatier, 1953

 

The celebration moved to the Hershey Sports Arena where guests enjoyed a slice of  cake provided by 800 women who each baked a cake for the festivities.  Cake and ice cream was served by 500 local high school girls.  The evening culminated with a musical performance written and directed by Pennsylvania’s own Fred Waring.