Later this week, Hershey will gather in front of the Community Building on (14E) Chocolate Avenue to mark the beginning of the holiday season with the lighting of the community Christmas tree.
This is tradition stretches back to 1915. That year the Hershey’s Mother’s Club was inspired to put up the community’s first Christmas tree. The idea for having a community Christmas tree may have been inspired by a community tree first erected in New York City’s Madison Square in 1913.
The article noted that the lighting ceremony would be held that evening at 7 p.m. and would include carols sung by the school children and a time for singing by the attendees.
As the next week’s issue of the Hershey Press noted, the event was highly successful. Over 200 attended, a significant number when you remember that the entire town’s population was only 1500 people.
With that simple, last minute plan to erect a community Christmas tree, a long-lived tradition was born. While at times the tradition was interrupted or altered because of world wars, each Christmas holiday season Hershey gathers together to celebrate the season. To learn more, visit the Hershey Community Archives.
Text of the 12/23/1915 Hershey Press article:
HERSHEY COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS TREE
Will Be Located at Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues and Will Be Beautifully Illuminated—-
Exercises Thursday Evening: at 7 O’clock—Committee
Hershey is to have a community Christmas tree!
At the meeting last week the Mothers’ Club took up the suggestion of Miss Margaret Langworthy and appointed the president, Mrs. Ezra F. Hershey, to put the idea into execution. There was not much time for the work, but Mrs. Hershey secured the co-operation of James B. Leithiser, and he promptly enlisted the facilities of the Hershey Improvement Company. James Millard was asked to secure the tree, and as this issue of the Press is being printed the tree is being carried to the chief comer, of the town and installed for the great holiday. It is a superb cedar, and it will be wonderfully illuminated by many electric lights placed under the direction of Mr. Hull.
Everybody is invited to join in the affair. The exercises will be held Thursday evening at 7 o’clock, and the whole town, with invited guests from the surrounding country will be present. No long program will be attempted. There will be a short speech and then Christmas carols by the school
children and choruses by the assembled men, women and children. It will be a genuine old-fashioned time and it is expected to be the main event of the Christmastide.
The Mothers’ Club is doing great work for the children.