Nothing like the awful, sweltering summer of 2010 to make you appreciate what a great cold-weather city Philadelphia is. Maybe it’s the pre-holiday glow, but everywhere we went this weekend was warm, welcoming, and cozy.
Friday night was the annual trip to Macys for the current incarnation of the Wanamaker’s Light Show. In the early-to-mid 2000s, this Philadelphia tradition entered a dark era. People still gathered in the grand old department store to see the Sugarplum Fairy, Rudolph, and Frosty, but the show’s higher-maintenance elements gradually disappeared, starting with the fountains and the Santa Express train and ending with the tragic demise of the Magic Christmas Tree in 2004. And no, that’s not hyperbole. It really was tragic.
Enter Macys. Say what you want about this bastion of consumer whoredom, it’s the first modern tenant of the Wanamaker Building to invest in Philadelphia’s beloved tradition. Even though the new LED light board isn’t quite as folksy as the old version, the animated snowmen and trumpet-playing bears are just as charming. And in 2008, the Magic Christmas Tree returned, and I did not cry.
And I also don’t cry during the show’s finale, when the organ blares and every single bulb on that board lights up in a joyous, kitschy display.