Undying tradition

Wanamaker eagle

Wanamaker eagle

Last weekend was the annual ritual. We meet at the eagle, that is, in the Grand Court of the old Wanamaker’s department store, grab a seat on the floor, and watch the Christmas light show.

The Wanamaker’s light show has evolved from state-of-the-art to retro and kitschy to sadly neglected. Over the past few years, key elements of the display have degraded into potential safety hazards and disappeared. The train and the fountains were big losses, but for me the turning point was the year the light show lost the beautifully gaudy and mesmerizing magic Christmas tree. What a tree. It stood half the height of the light board and turned every color imaginable, providing the focal point of each number, from the Nutcracker to Frosty to Rudi on drums.

The other part of the annual ritual is a trip to nearby Ludwig’s Garden, where we drink beer, eat heavy German food, and complain about the light show. And even though we complain about the light show, we’ll keep going. And when the light show finally dies, we’ll keep going. Because however fun the glitz is, the tradition is ultimately about the laughing and the friends and the holiday.

8 responses to “Undying tradition”

  1. Clair

    For me, the tradition is about the beer, German babes, and potato pancakes.

    Oh yeah, the holiday and friends stuff too.

  2. Becky

    Clair, I try to do one non-wise-ass post, and here you come to mess it up.

    By the way, the potato pancakes are Ludwigs aren’t very good. In 2006 we shall do a Port Richmond pierogie/potato pancake outing.

  3. Melissa

    I haven’t been to the light show in years and now I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go. I like remembering how it used to be.

    Sorry to go non-wise ass on you, but it’s just kind of sad to me. 🙁

  4. Tom G

    I checked out the lights this past weekend too:
    http://static.flickr.com/20/73556405_ca530a5bac_o.jpg

  5. Becky

    Tom, that’s a great shot; I hope you don’t mind, but I edited your comment to add the hyperlink. I must say, however, that I am not a fan of the non-traditional patriotic ending that was added after 9-11. I think they should keep the show holiday-related.

    Melissa, I agree that it’s sad. And don’t worry, this was supposed to be a non-wise-ass post. It’s Clair who messed it up.

  6. Tom G

    No problem at all Becky. I agree with you, great shot — but it doesn’t say Christmas. For those that haven’t seen it, the flag raises for the “finale”…Most of the show is more Christmas. By the way, was the audio tough to hear for you too?

  7. Becky

    Tom, I didn’t have any problems hearing the audio (this was at the 6 PM show on Saturday evening). Even better, the organ was played during the final two songs.

  8. freddy

    *sigh* I, too, miss the tradition of watching the light display. Splashing some light on the side of City Hall isn’t going to make up for it in the slightest. I suppose we need to create a new tradition, although I’m pressed to even suggest anything for fear of offending some religious minority or someone who feels that Christmas should include patriotism or something of that ilk. Whatever happened to good old fashioned Santa?