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24.08.2015
Friends of the Wanamaker Organ Scroll Down to see where Frosty Spends His SummersMACY'S Christmas Light Show Season 2015 is now history.
When the Wanamaker Organ is included, it features the Grand Finale ("Deck the Halls") of the Light Show, then the daily recital continues. VIEW THE original Light Show here, and here, and see a vintage TV segment with organ here. Please note: the late afternoon Wanamaker Organ concerts on Christmas Eve Day and New Year's Eve day are generally cancelled due to potential curtailed store hours.
An annotated bibliography by Adrianna Riccioni tracing the history of the Light Show is here.
The following features trace the history of the Macy's Light Show from its earliest days at the John Wanamaker department store in the 1950s to the present. Retailers have always kept the Light Show up-to-date, and the latest version, produced by Macy's, is no exception.
As far as the Wanamaker Organ was concerned, the main problem with past Christmas shows was that the instrument was  covered by a huge theater curtain, muffling the Organ’s sound and robbing the hall of reverberation. Recently the organ case itself has been left uncovered, with the Magic Christmas Tree standing before it. The Macy’s Parade Studio redesign has also helped lessen the common retail criticism that Christmas comes earlier each year, because the show is able to be put up much more quickly. The Show itself was computerized in the 1970s but nonetheless required two operators to run it. There are 34,500 LED lights on the Macy’s Magic Christmas Tree in six colors: red, yellow, green, blue, purple, and cool white, which breaks down to about 5,750 lights in each color.
The rest of the light show has about 65,000 LED lights (the Parade studio attempted to do an actual count, but found it impractical to finish). The old Wanamaker tree contained an estimated 23,500 lights, many custom-tinted just for the Show in shades of pink and purple, and the figures contained 29,000 bulbs.
When it was in use, the Dancing Waters (TM) Enchanted Fountain system used 3000 gallons of water.
The original Santa Express train engine weighed 700 pounds and the two cars weighed 500 pounds apiece. The original Magic Christmas Tree had 85 individual tree branches, topped by a cone-shaped section and crowned with a five-pointed star. The total electrical consumption during the 21 climactic seconds when the entire Wanamaker show was lit was a staggering 288,000 watts.  Not everything could be turned on at the same time during the Grand Finale—the power surge would exceed the rated capacity of the feeder cables coming from the transformer vaults in the basement. The Store’s famous light show has always been one of Philadelphia’s most hallowed traditions since its inception in November 1955. By the 1950s Baby Boomers were poised to fall in love with the Organ and Christmas decorations.
During the 1960s various panels of figures set on plywood panels, were added, based on a narrative similar to that used today.
Over the years various figures were added, including trumpet-blowing Wanamaker Eagles, Sleighs, a Volkswagen Beetle, Stockings, and Trumpet-bearing Bears, which were included in the early ‘80s to support a store promotion of Rudi Bear stuffed cubbies. Characters in use today include two Bears, four Frostys, eight Reindeer, 50 Snowflakes, two Toy Soldiers, three Clocks, five Ballerinas, one Nutcracker, one Girl, one Prince, one Princess, two Candy Canes, Santa and the Conductor on the Santa Express Train. Macy’s acquired the celebrated Dickens Christmas Village from Philadelphia’s Strawbridge & Clothier Department Store. Macy’s has also enlivened Market Street with a series of fanciful windows spreading holiday cheer to the sidewalks.
During the off-season the show is stored in the passageways around the Organ, making the area look like Santa’s workshop.
John Wanamaker was a leading Christian layman and founder of Bethany Presbyterian Church, and his family built on that heritage. During Lent and Easter paintings of the Passion of Christ by the celebrated Hungarian painter Michael de Munkacsy were hung in the Grand Court.  These paintings had been sent on an international tour following their completion and thousands paid admission to see them.
Towering high above the Wanamaker Grand Court, facing the Christmas Cathedral, the Magic Christmas Tree of a Million Lights adds brilliance to the holiday season. No one captures the true spirit and joy of the Christmas season better than the PEANUTS Gang!
Wearing a familiar cap and armed with his trusty snowplow, Thomas hauls two festively decorated cars to bring BIG holiday cheer to one and all.
There’s no time like the holidays to enjoy the heartwarming artistry of Thomas Kinkade, whose masterful vision inspires this exclusive talking The Night Before Christmas train car.
You know that Christmas is right around the corner when you see ads featuring the famous Budweiser® Clydesdales trotting through a winter wonderland! Lionel is excited to team up with Coca-Cola and offer this beautiful, Coca-Cola Holiday G-Gauge Train Set. The heartwarming mood of the Christmas season provides the perfect opportunity to make everything just a little more personal.
Bring the magic of Disney into your home and under your tree for Christmas with the Disney Holiday Celebration Express Train Collection, a beautifully detailed working electric Christmas train, licensed by Disney and available from The Bradford Exchange, Hawthorne Village Division.
Take a ride back to a simpler time on the only illuminated electric Christmas train collection inspired by Thomas Kinkade, the most collected artist of our time!
Get your holiday train display on track with these collectible train accessories, exclusively from Hawthorne Village! At the very top of her house in New York City, eight-year-old Virginia and her pal Ollie delight in a magical book about Santa Claus. How to respond? How to give hope and inspiration to a little girl, a city…and the world? At last the editor takes pen in hand and composes the reply that has become nearly as famous as Santa himself.
Still pondering, Virginia encounters a scraggly, shivering, “Santa” on the street corner collecting coins for charity the poor soul had given away his coat to someone in need!
All is well and joyous to the world, and belief reaches higher and deeper and wider than ever before! About the author: Bill IndurskyBill Indursky is an architect, trend expert, and digital entrepreneur.
Although the 2016 schedule will not be announced until the fall, here are typical details from past seasons.
It is also played on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 5:30 pm, and on Wednesday and Friday at 7pm.


To access it, please CLICK HERE.Help is requested in finding the musical artists of those works not yet identified. While retaining all the beloved elements of the John Wanamaker original, the revamped production —  dubbed the Millennium Edition by designer Larry Kerecman — modernizes the equipment while allowing the Grand Organ to cast its holiday spell. Large circles are cut through the panels to allow more of the beautiful Wanamaker Organ sound to get through. The scrim backdrop allows much more of the Organ's glorious sound to get through than did the original heavy plush drapes.
Until the Grand Court was repainted for the American Bicentennial in 1976, this sound-deadening continued throughout the year as plush curtains hid side-wall seasonal tableaux of the Nativity and blanketed the towering Christmas Cathedral opposite the Organ. In days of yore the curtain was installed in late September and removed by early February after the last characters had been removed. Colors include red, yellow, orange, green, blue, pink, purple, warm white, and cool white. Previous years, stretching back to the era of John and Rodman Wanamaker,  featured grandiose Christmas and Easter displays that ran the full height of the Grand Court.
Yost took the show in a new direction by draping the Organ entirely in blue-green curtains that conformed to the curves of the case, and by adding the Magic Christmas Tree to the fountain display. Wanamaker’s gradually extended its decorations to the exterior of the store, and huge lighted pendants and festoons hung at the central entrances on Market and Juniper Streets. The Magic Christmas Tree is kept on the second floor, Chestnut Street, behind the ladies suit department. It included a real monorail for kids that made a circuit around the department from 1946 to 1984, and a sprawling electric-train layout. During the 1950s, '60s and '70s the Grand Court included a Christmas Cathedral at the rear (also with a thick blue-green drapery behind it) that had a Nativity scene as its focus and saints and bells in its towers. Inspired by the beauty of famous churches and religious art throughout the world, this Christmas presentation is located in the Grand Court of the Philadelphia store. As though touched by a magic wand, the colors flash and change before your eyes while the Enchanted Fountains rise and fall to the accompaniment of Christmas music. Now, let Rudolph and his friends help create a new family tradition with the first-ever Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer electric train collection, complete with sculptural details! Now you can join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of your favorite characters aboard the PEANUTS train collection. Available only from The Bradford Exchange, Hawthorne Village Division, this festive box car features both the art and the voice of Thomas Kinkade! Now they’ve inspired a first-ever Budweiser electric train collection that runs over with the joyful spirit of the King of Beers. Made in the USA of both US and imported parts, this iconic General style engine and historic holiday Coca-Cola decor is sure to inspire family traditions and happiness for years to come. Now an exclusive collectible personalized train car is on track to do just that, while on your journey to some truly happy holidays. Your Disney Holiday Celebration Express Train Collection begins with Issue One, Mickey Mouse’s Holiday Celebration Locomotive. Your collection begins with Issue One featuring the impressive steam locomotive and coal tender.
Featuring Budweiser motifs and wintry accents, your Budweiser train accessory collection begins with Issue One, Passenger Depot. Back in the 1950s “Light Show Larry” was fascinated by the Magic Christmas Tree as were many other boomers. Colored LED lights have replaced the traditional incandescent bulbs at great savings of electricity. Many Philadelphians consider the Yuletide season incomplete without a trip to the Grand Court to hear the Wanamaker Organ and see the Holiday Pageant of Lights.
Macy's installed winches in the ceiling and began hanging the lighted figures on horizontal trusses that can easily be raised as a unit, enabling sections to be set up and removed in considerably less time. The LEDs use 90 percent less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs (which were from 5 to 7 watts per bulb in the old show).
These blinkers are still incandescent because the blink is in the bulb and is not controlled by the computer. Stage-carpentry schemes right out of Hollywood covered the Wanamaker Organ wall with staircases, balconies, draperies, “stained glass,” greenery, paintings and rich tapestries. While not as popular as the Wanamaker Light Show, the village drew customers to the fourth floor Strawbridge’s, and on one occasion a Dickens descendant presided at the season opening. The branches are hung from trusses in the ceiling and the endpoints are color-coded for easy installation on the center trunk and connection to the electrical outlets.
Cathedral-like arcades on the second floor held statuary showing Biblical stories including the Annunciation and Flight into Egypt, and the Main Floor had a series of Gothic pavilions atop each sales counter that were likewise lighted to give an air of enchantment to the entire Grand Court.
So precious were these paintings to John Wanamaker that he paid the highest price received by any living artist to date (estimates vary from $100,000 to .$175,000 each). The Nativity tableau is placed in the central portal above which are stained glass windows portraying The Annunciation and The Flight Into Egypt.
Now an exclusive COCA-COLA train collection invites you to get on board with a nostalgic tribute to over 75 years of this classic Santa.
The holiday fun begins with Issue One, featuring the impressive steam locomotive and coal tender. Heartfelt memories from your favorite Christmas moments begin with Issue One, the Snoopy Steam Locomotive. Lionel G-Gauge battery-powered sets are ready-to-run right out of the box and perfectly designed for children ages four and up.
Available only from The Bradford Exchange, Hawthorne Village Division, this On-30 scale 2015 train car is created to connect to your existing train display and runs on any HO-gauge track. Soon after you will receive Issue Two, a classic train car, which includes the FREE 16-piece HO gauge track. Soon, your holiday accessories will keep a chuggin’ with Issue Two, Switchman Station with Santa. DLN is a MAGAZINE + DESIGN AGENCY + MARKETPLACE + TV CHANNEL promoting inspiring design of all eras online and on TV. Macy's Christmas Light ShowThe Grand CourtLight Shows Run from the day after Thanksgiving through December 31.
The Wanamaker Organ is the largest playing pipe organ in the world and has more than 28,677 pipes.


He built a model of it at home and that helped launch him on a career as an electrical engineer. By placing the Organ in the forefront of the show, Curt allowed the Reigning Monarch of All Instruments to weave its spell in special productions that join the Tree and organ with imaginative lighting effects as Peter Richard Conte plays festive Yuletide music.
Because of its complexity, the Wanamaker show took the efforts of at least three men to install it. LED colors are purer than incandescent colors, and cameras sometimes have difficulty capturing the violet and white shades. The vertical strings of lights contained 5906 bulbs, powered by 40 circuits so that the lights could be programmed to “chase” back and forth. After Strawbridge's closed, Macy’s installed a drop ceiling in Egyptian Hall in the Fall of 2006 and placed the show there during its move into the John Wanamaker Building. The rest of the light-show panels and trusses are stored on the second floor around and behind the Main Organ chambers. Soon you’ll receive Issue Two, a classic train car, which includes the FREE 16-piece HO gauge track. Best of all, you may make this holiday train car a ONE-OF-A-KIND for FREE when you provide a name, date or message – up to 3 lines on each side – for customized inscription!
You’re sure to delight in Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and more. Then your Thomas Kinkade train collection continues with Issue Three, another train car, which includes your FREE power pack.
Macy's built a new and larger version capable of displaying all the colors of the rainbow. The result is a popular sensation that rivals those in other cities, including the New York Radio City show and the great Rockefeller Plaza Christmas Tree. The prolonged after-hours schedule was partly due to its being done as overtime after employees’ daily shift, and also for the safety of customers. Restoration of the accompanying Fountain-and-Colored-Light Show on the balcony in front of the Organ case is not being considered at present because a redesign would be needed to protect the Organ and low-lying light and plug-in power strips that illuminate the case.
Macy’s also attires attendants in period garb and sometimes has carolers sing from the organ console loft.
The sections are arranged in order from top to bottom as one travels from the control room, affectionately known as Frosty Central around the organ to the Thirteenth Street side of the second floor.
In the first half of the 20th century it was a famous John Wanamaker tradition to have a Christmas Carol sing-along on Christmas Eve, and songbooks were regularly given to customers.
When that home burned to the ground in 1907, neighbors cut them from their frames and rescued them.
Soon your collection will continue with Issue Two, a classic train car, which includes the FREE 16-piece HO gauge track, and Issue Three, a passenger train car, which includes your FREE power pack.
You’ll love every moment spent watching the classic steam engine with its brightly lit headlamp, chugging around the track and bringing Rudolph and his friends to life in your home.
Each charming car in your PEANUTS train collection is highly detailed, many with hand-painted figures of the beloved PEANUTS characters, along with artwork showcasing beloved scenes from the PEANUTS Christmas special. Then your collection will continue with Issue Three, another train car, which includes your FREE power pack.
Highly detailed with authentic bell and whistle train sounds and a realistic steam locomotive.
You’ll be delighted with all the special features in future issues too, from a switching station with a Santa who pops out as your train passes by, to an illuminated station platform and even FREE figurines.
Organist Mary Vogt would push buttons from a device at the console and the page number of each Carol would be projected. And Snoopy leads the way on his festive locomotive, boasting a headlight that shines a merry beacon of light! Very strong demand is expected for this unique talking Christmas train car, so don’t miss out. Leading the celebration is the locomotive featuring Mickey Mouse in a Santa hat at the helm and a working headlamp that shines a beacon of light as it rolls along the track.
Each train car is embellished with a Thomas Kinkade Christmas scene and lavished with authentic details, including a headlight on the 2-6-0 engine and passenger cars that actually light up.
SCROLL DOWN FOR LOTS OF HELPFUL INFORMATIONShoppers waiting for the next show will want to take in the Dickens Christmas Village on the Third Floor, Market Street, which is also free and is open on a continuous basis from 10 am.
Just hauling up Santa’s train to the very top of the Court could take from closing ’til opening the following morning.
Lit Brothers department store (“Hats Trimmed Free of Charge”) had a Colonial Christmas Village, which is now at the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park.
Wanamaker’s death the paintings were hung in the Grand Court annually and were displayed at the New York 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, before being sold in 1988. Available only from The Bradford Exchange, Hawthorne Village Division, this COCA-COLA train collection is fully authorized by The COCA-COLA company and is precision-scaled to run on HO-gauge track. Brisk demand is expected for the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Town Express, so order now!
This special PEANUTS collectible is a must for any fan, but strong demand is expected, so order now! Each issue in this collection offers a special seasonal greeting from the rails of the King of Beers, and makes the perfect addition to any collection, or a unique Budweiser gift.
Plus, it glows with warm illumination from within, inviting you to take a ride that you will always remember. Just imagine the Christmas Express, its windows aglow and the locomotive shining the way, spreading Christmas cheer as it rolls through your collectible village – if you hurry! Choirs and orchestras frequently played special programs of sacred music during this period. Plus $100 in FREE accessories gets you on track for a heartwarming trip through the memories of Christmas past.
Macy's beautiful Market Street Windows, created by the Parade Studio, are traditionally unveiled the Saturday before Thanksgiving.At the Dickens Christmas Village (Third Floor Market Street) there is also a concession for photos with Santa, a studio to design a personalized teddy bear, and a Christmas gift shop ("Holiday Lane") nearby.
Previous personalized holiday cars were sold out for the last six years, so don’t wait to secure yours.




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