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Archive for the ‘Hershey Park’ Category

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.

Strike up the Band!

John Philip Sousa at the podium, Hershey Convention Hall.  July 4, 1925

John Philip Sousa at the podium, Hershey Convention Hall. July 4, 1925

 

 

Summer in Hershey means concerts.  This past weekend the Dave Matthews Band came to Hershey, bringing traffic and tens of 1000s of fans to our community.  Presenting internationally recognized stars, such as Dave Matthews, is nothing new for Hershey.  Our community has been a destination for top performers since the early 1910s. 

 

 

Visitors gather outside Hershey Convention Hall.  1925

Visitors gather outside Hershey Convention Hall. 1925

 

The Convention Hall, constructed in 1915, was a perfect venue for headliners.  The facility seated 6000 people. The addition of such a performance hall, created the perfect place for nationally recognized performers to appear in Hershey. 

 

Hershey Press Sousa 7-2-1925

 

In 1925 John Philip Sousa and his band came to Hershey for the first time, opening its touring season over the Fourth of July weekend (July 4-5).  An internationally acclaimed conductor, he toured and performed to sold-out crowds in the United States and around the world.  Unlike many other popular conductors, Sousa conducted every concert.  The Sousa band did not have any assistant conductors.  His concerts featured many of his own compositions as well as other popular music. 

 

 At that time Sousa was 71 years old and still actively composing music.  During the two days, Sousa conducted 4 concerts.  Over 10,000 people came to hear him perform, with many more people listening outside standing by the Convention Hall’s windows..  The success of the Sousa concerts led to an invitation to return to Hershey the following year.

 

In 1926, Sousa returned to Hershey again starting his touring season in Hershey, performing four concerts over July 4th and 5th.  Attendance was less, with 5,000 guests.  Heavy rains over the two days, with July 5th falling on a Monday, contributed to the smaller crowds.

 

A Bird’s Eye View: Hershey’s Monorail

Visitors line up to tour the Hershey Chocolate Factory.  ca.1964-1967

Visitors line up to tour the Hershey Chocolate Factory. ca.1964-1967

 

This weekend is exceptionally busy in Hershey.  The band, One Direction, has brought 1000s to Hershey.  Between the band and Hershey’s regular high volume numbers of visitors during the summer season, the roads are jammed!  This is nothing new for Hershey.  Every summer residents resign themselves to heavy traffic caused by tourists drawn to Hershey and its many amenities.  Back in the 1960s, Hershey tried to address the challenge of summer traffic.

 

By the late 1960s, traffic on Chocolate Avenue during the summer months was overwhelming.  Tourists wanting to tour the Chocolate Factory and visit the park often created traffic jams.  Downtown parking was limited.  To ease congestion Hershey Estates and Hershey Chocolate Corporation agreed share the costs of constructing a Monorail that would link Hershey Park and downtown Hershey. 

 

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The monorail connected downtown Hershey with the Park complex. 1969

 

The route chosen highlighted attractions at the Park, Zoo and provided a bird’e eye view of downtown.  The route was designed to be convenient to community residents as well as visitors.  There were two stations, one by the Sports Arena and one at the north end of the building at One Chocolate Building.  People could board the train at either station.

 

PA Secretary of Commerce Robert Mumma and Miss Pennsylvania Trudy Pedersen cut the ribbon at the Monorail dedication.  June 20, 1969

PA Secretary of Commerce Robert Mumma and Miss Pennsylvania Trudy Pedersen cut the ribbon at the Monorail dedication. June 20, 1969

 

Pennsylvania Secretary of Commerce, Robert M. Mumma, and Trudy Pedersen, Miss Pennsylvania, 1969, cut the ribbon at the June 20, 1969 dedication ceremony.   The monorail operated during the peak tourist season and the ride cost $.50.  The monorail continued to operate as a separate attraction until 1973 when the factory tours ended.  The ride was incorporated into the new Hersheypark as a scenic ride.

 

People wait to board the Monorail at the Arena station.  8/1969

People wait to board the Monorail at the Arena station. 8/1969

You scream, I scream, We all scream for ice cream!

Hershey Creamery was a popular stop for ice cream during a visit to Hershey.  ca.1940

Hershey Creamery was a popular stop for ice cream during a visit to Hershey. ca.1940

 

When the outdoor temperature rises, ice cream comes immediately to mind.  Thankfully, Hershey has always been a place to get great homemade ice cream.  Milton Hershey believed in finding a use for everything.  The Hershey Chocolate factory needed skimmed milk for making milk chocolate.  The Lebanon Creamery, which opened in  1905 processed the milk for shipping to the factory and bottled milk and cream for retail sales.  It also made cottage cheese and ice cream.  When a creamery or “model dairy” was built in Hershey in 1929, it also began processing milk for retail sale.  Located next to Hershey Park it was a popular destination for Park visitors, Ballroom dancers and swimmers at Hershey Park Pool.

 

Fred Mazzoli, interviewed in 1990 for the Archives’ oral history program, had many memories of making ice cream at the Hershey Creamery.  He started out at the creamery in 1932 as a 14 year old working a summer job.  He had a knack for fixing machines and for making ice cream.

 

Listen to his story:

 

 

 

Audio transcript:

Well, first of all, I was pretty handy with machinery up in the factory [sic] [creamery].  They had an Eskimo pie machine, and they could never get it to work.  So there was a fellow that we knew, a fellow by the name of Capreni.  He worked in the creamery, because he had worked in the creamery in the factory.  So they sent him down to the Hershey creamery department to work because he knew something about the machinery.  So he got me a job and I went to work there.  In no time at all, they needed somebody to make ice cream, so I took up the ice cream.  They made it in some departments there.  From there we started making Eskimo pies, and I was handy with the mechanic part of the Eskimo pie machine.  That’s how I started making ice cream. 

 

I went to Penn State for a couple of weeks, for instruction, something like that, in creamery work, but when I went up there, I had started decorating ice cream with whipped cream.  When I went up there, I was doing this decorating, and that gave them another idea to teach up there.  So I really was hired down there to operate the Eskimo pie machine, and from then on I took over that whole ice cream department, and I was in charge of the ice cream department until I quit and come up here and work here [Mazzoli Ice Cream].

Not just rides: Hershey Park fun houses

Hershey Park lit up at night with neon lights decorating many of its attractions.  1938-1940

Hershey Park lit up at night with neon lights decorating many of its attractions. 1938-1940

Hershey introduced its first fun house in 1930 when the old swimming pool bathhouse was remodeled to be the park’s first fun house.  Hershey didn’t try to create this attraction in-house.  They hired James A. Fields, of Detroit, Michigan, who had been in the fun house business for more than twenty years to create the park’s first fun house.
Simply called “The Funhouse,” the attraction was an active fun house that had four wooden slides, a barrel roll, a spinning disk, and a ride called the cup and saucer.  It also contained a tunnel to walk through.  The crazy contraptions were pleasing to both the participants and the onlookers.  People simply tried to get through the devices without being too embarrassed.
Cy Little, the park’s picnic manager, described the Funhouse in his 1990 oral history interview:

The Funhouse was a popular place.  That had all sorts of little gimmicks in it.  The barrel, for example, was a great place to test your equilibrium, and there was a sack ride.  You rode down an incline in a burlap sack, and the boys used to stand around the blow holes waiting for the girls to go down, and the operator would turn on the blowing air, and up go the skirts.

It was remodeled in 1938, with new stunts added, and renamed WHOOPS.  Philadelphia Toboggan Company did the remodeling and provided the stunts.  The Funhouse was located along Spring Creek in the future Comet Hollow area.  After the 1945 park season, WHOOPS was torn down to make way for the Comet roller coaster.

Death Valley was built as a dark, walk-through funhouse in 1938.

Death Valley was built as a dark, walk-through fun house in 1938.

The popularity of the Hershey Park Funhouse/WHOOPS led to the construction of a second fun house, built in 1938 and first named “Death Valley.  Unlike WHOOPS, Death Valley was a dark walk-through style fun house. In 1940 new stunts were added and it was renamed Laugh Land.  This fun house was described in press releases as an attraction “where you walk around in the dark and strange things happen.”  Laffing Sal, a mechanical laughing woman that had been purchased from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, was added and entertained passersby from her window above Laugh Land’s entrance.  She became an icon of Hershey Park.  Laugh Land remained a part of Hershey Park until 1971 when Hersheypark began its transition into a themed amusement park.

'Laffing Sal  created all guests at Laugh Land, laughing like crazy all day long.  ca.1940-1950

'Laffing Sal greeted all guests at Laugh Land, laughing like crazy all day long. ca.1940-1950

Funland (5C184.11) was the park’s third fun house. It opened in 1946, replacing WHOOPS. Unlike the dark experience that Laugh Land offered, Funland was a more traditional walk through fun house.  In an article written for the Lancaster [PA] Motorist in 1947, the attraction was marketed this way:

In Fun Land you ought to wear jodhpurs regardless of the sex to which you belong for the fun maker will have his innings in the trap that he has laid out for you.  Here you can show off to advantage if you know how to spin.  If you can dance on a dime and not get dizzy, you are a No. 1 candidate. [Accession 85008 B1, F84]

Fun Land  remained a staple of the park through the 1972 season. It was demolished at the end of the season to make way for the new theme park renovations.  For more information about Hershey Park’s fun houses, visit the Archives’ website.

Beauty even in the simple things: Hershey Creamery tile work

 

Hershey Creamery and "Model Dairy,"  ca.1940

Hershey Creamery and "Model Dairy," ca.1940

 

 

The Hershey Creamery began operations in May 1930.  The facility served two purposes.  It was a “model dairy” processing milk and producing a variety of milk products including butter, cottage cheese, milk, cream and ice cream. 

 

Hershey Creamery employee, Al Tesno, bottles milk, ca.1951-1959

Hershey Creamery employee, Al Tesno, bottles milk, ca.1951-1959

 

 

The building also operated a soda fountain counter where patrons could purchase drinks and ice cream based treats.  This public portion of the building featured beautiful tile work  and a special mural designed and installed by noted tile maker Franklin Pottery, located in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

 

 

Design plan for Hershey Creamery tile mural.  Created by Franklin Pottery, Lansdale, PA.  ca.1930

Design plan for Hershey Creamery tile mural. Created by Franklin Pottery, Lansdale, PA. ca.1930

 

 

The mural incorporated images of cocoa bean harvesting, grazing dairy cows and the Hershey Chocolate factory in the background.  It was placed on the wall behind the soda fountain counter.

 

 

Hershey Creamery soda fountain, ca. 1930-1940

Hershey Creamery soda fountain, ca. 1930-1940

 

 

 

The Creamery was a popular destination for visitors enjoying Hershey Park, the Ballroom and even the Park Swimming Pool.  Brent Hancock in his oral history interview remembered: 

 

We used to go swimming at the Park Pool. You could go swimming and you could lay over there until 10:30 at night, and listen to the orchestra at the Ballroom. Boy, that was beautiful. The women wore their frocks, and with all the lights, it was out of this world, really. Beautiful. The music coming out and all the lights.  At the break, you could go over to the Creamery. The Creamery would be open. They’d take the women over there.  It was very, very nice.

 

Hershey Creamery closed in June 1971.  When the building was razed in 1986, the mural was saved and it was eventually transferred to the Hershey Museum.  Today it is on display in The Hershey Story’s gift shop.

A window to the world: Hershey Park zoo

 
Entrance to Hershey Park Zoo, ca.1934-1941

Entrance to Hershey Park Zoo, ca.1934-1941

 

 

Until the mid 20th century there were relatively few wild animal collections in the United States. Not surprisingly, zoos were a “big city” attraction. Large urban areas had the resources and the potential audience to support such an exotic and unique attraction.  Some of the United States’ best known zoos, such as the Philadelphia Zoo (1874), Baltimore Zoo (1878), National Zoo (1889) and Bronx Zoo (1899), did not open until the end of the 19th century. 

Milton Hershey believed in providing his town with experiences not typical for a small town.  Hershey Zoo began in 1905 with an exhibit of prairie dogs in Hershey Park.  In 1910 the Zoo formally opened.  Hershey Zoo sought to feature exotic animals in its exhibits.  Lions, leopards, monkeys and exotic birds were popular early attractions.

 

Milton Hershey visits with the zoo's newest addition, a baby elephant.  ca. 1935-1940

Milton Hershey visits with the zoo's newest addition, a baby elephant. ca. 1935-1940

 

During Milton Hershey’s lifetime Hershey Zoo was a local attraction.  Animals were added to the zoo because they became available or someone had a special interest in having a particular specimen in the zoo.   In the era before television, zoos played an important role educating the public about animals and environments different than central Pennsylvania.

 

The zoo was particularly successful in breeding animals in captivity.  Lion quintuplets were born at Hershey Zoo on Easter Sunday in 1936.  The mother’s name was Erie and the father was Leo.  The cubs would have been sold or traded to other zoos when they were old enough.

 

Hershey Park Zoo closed at the end of the 1971 season as part of Hershey Estates’ plans to modernize Hershey Park.  In 1978 it was redeveloped as ZooAmerica, an accredited zoo that features exhibits of animals native to North America, with naturalized animal habitats.

 

 To see more images of Hershey Zoo and ZooAmerica, check out the Archives’ Flickr photo sets.

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

candylane-logo 

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.

Hershey Park: Bigger and Better: The Dentzel Carrousel

Hershey’s first merry-go-round was so successful that Milton Hershey soon decided that the Park needed a larger, more impressive carrousel.  In 1912 Milton Hershey bought a new $10,000 carrousel for the park.  This time he acquired one of the best carrousels that money could buy from William Dentzel of Philadelphia. 
The Dentzel carrousel offered riders a variety of animals in addition to the traditional horses.  ca.1935-1944

The Dentzel carrousel offered riders a variety of animals in addition to the traditional horses. ca.1935-1944

Dentzel, who was known as “the Carrousel King,” came from a long line of carrousel manufacturers.  The Dentzel family had been in the business since 1837 when members of the family manufactured their first carrousel in Germany.  Dentzel’s father, Gustav Dentzel, came to America around the time of the Civil War and manufactured carrousels in Philadelphia until his death in 1909.  William Dentzel succeeded his father as head of the company.  In 1912 the Dentzel Company was one of the largest manufacturers “Of better, first class carrousels in America.”  The company, located in Philadelphia, PA, specialized in manufacturing large carrousels for use in amusement parks.

 

The miniature train passed right by the carrousel in its new location by Spring Creek .  ca.1916-1917

The miniature train passed right by the carrousel in its new location by Spring Creek . ca.1916-1917

This time plans called for the carrousel to be located in a more central location in the Park.  A new pavilion was built for the Dentzel carrousel directly across from the dance pavilion (in the same location as the  future Hershey Park Ballroom) on the opposite side of Spring Creek near Park Boulevard.  The new carrousel was much larger, with a 12.5 feet wide platform.  The outside row of animals was stationery and featured a menagerie of animals including a lion, tiger, a deer, giraffe as well as 12 horses of different designs, making a total of sixteen animals.  The two inside rows were jumpers and included two each of ostriches, rabbits, goats, bears, pigs, cats, chickens and  deer.  The were also two large carved chariots with upholstered seats for people who did not wish to ride an animal.  The carrousel was a spectacular ride at night lit with more than four hundred lights. 

 

The carrousel was located next to Spring Creek.  ca.1933

When Milton Hershey purchased the Dentzel carrousel he had it installed next to Spring Creek. ca1933

To make the ride even more exciting, Dentzel supplied a ring board and a ring catcher.  Riders on the outside row of animals could reach up during the ride and try and grab a ring, hoping to get the brass one that would give him or her a free ride.   The ring machine remained very popular for many years.   Dick Seiverling  in his oral history interview had fond memories of trying to catch the ring:

I think perhaps the area of the Hershey Park I remember most of all is the carousel, the merry-go-round, and how the people, fanatics, would try to get the gold ring out of the horse’s mouth.  And some were that adept at it, they could get two rings at one round, you know, as it went around.  And, of course, the person that got the gold ring would get a prize or a free ride.  The carousel was then located at the bridge next to the creek, and I remember how we would stand there at the creek at the bridge and watch the big carp [and mallard ducks] and feed them [bread and] popcorn.  Of course, we didn’t feed them a lot of popcorn in those days, because that cost money.  I should say we saw other people feed the carp [and ducks] popcorn, because we weren’t about to spend any of our hard-earned allowance. 

Batter up! Baseball and Hershey

 

 

 

Hershey Athletic Field, Hershey vs. Ephrata; Abe Dieroff up to bat.  1913

Hershey Athletic Field, Hershey vs. Ephrata; Abe Dieroff up at bat. 1913

 

 

Hershey and baseball have been together for over a century.  Soon after the opening of the Hershey Chocolate Factory in 1905, the community’s first baseball team was assembled by John Snavely.  Hershey fielded more than one baseball team, particularly after the Y.M.C.A. was established in 1910.  In addition to local community teams, there was also an “Industrial League,” which consisted of teams from the Knockout, Office, and Shipping Room departments (in the chocolate factory), battling the Improvement Company, Store Company, and Craftsmen teams.  In the 1913 anniversary celebration, games against Lebanon and P.&.R. of Harrisburg were featured events.  The teams were sometimes small in the early years, but the games played on the Hershey Park athletic field were often attended by large and enthusiastic crowds.  Spectators packed the grandstands to watch Hershey take on teams from Elizabethtown, Lebanon, Harrisburg, and their intense rivals, Palmyra.  The Hershey Press covered the games offering highlights as well as batting and fielding averages and league standings.

 

 

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Hershey Baseball Team, ca. 1910 Bill Murrie is in first row, 4th from left.

 

William F.R. Murrie, president of the Hershey Chocolate Company, managed many of the early baseball teams.  As a young man Murrie played in a semi-professional league as a pitcher.  He enjoyed many sports, particularly baseball.  Players were drawn from the employees and community residents.  Several players were also recruited from the Carlisle Indian School.  Several American Indian students worked in the chocolate factory in the summer, playing on Hershey baseball teams and other sports for Hershey teams during their stay. The Carlisle students came to Hershey because of a personal friendship between Bill Murrie and Glenn “Pop” Warner, the Indian School’s football coach.

 Milton Hershey even came close to owning a professional baseball team.  Although no one is certain why, Milton Hershey strongly disliked William Wrigley, Jr., founder of the chewing gum company.  Wrigley owned the Chicago Cubs, a professional baseball team in the National League.  Milton Hershey sent John Myers, owner of a Lancaster baseball team, to try to purchase the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, which would compete with the Cubs in the National League.  While Milton Hershey would have overpaid to acquire the team, Myers refused to pay the $350,000 the owner was asking.  Since Milton Hershey could not beat Wrigley on the baseball field, he began to manufacture chewing gum, selling six sticks in a pack instead of five, to try to compete with Wrigley.