Art of Aging: Macy's Christmas Light Show

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- For many families, the holidays aren't complete without a visit to the Wanamaker Building in Center City for the Macy's Christmas Light Show.

And there are a few folks who help keep that tradition alive, year after year.

For 60 years, young and old have met under the Eagle to celebrate the season.

"It's a Christmas tradition. It wouldn't be Christmas without coming here," said Karen Lynch from Willow Grove.

The annual celebration is a tradition for the workers also.

Peter Conte has been the man behind the century old Grand Wanamaker Organ since 1989 - that's 27 years!

"And I'm the fourth person to have the title since 1911. It's kind of a gig you don't leave," he said.

Curt Mangel has been the organ curator for 14 years.

"It was Robin Wanamaker's dream to reproduce the sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra in pipes. It's probably the most famous pipe organ in world," he said.

"It sort of wraps it's arms around you and gives you a big hug. It does add a wonderful, exuberant ending to this already spectacular light show," added Conte.

That show is 10,000 lights dancing 6 stories high..

"I just love to see the reaction of the kids who are seeing it for the first time. They just light up," said Mangel.

Mangel has worked to bring the sound and lights of the show up-to-date and more energy-efficient with LED bulbs.

"I've seen four generations of people come to see the Light Show sometime during the Christmas season. A great tradition that everyone has cherished in this city," he said.

The Light Show runs every two hours starting at 10 am through New Year's Eve.

The longtime workers who bring the show to life and bring sheer delight to generations of families consider it Macy's holiday present to the city.

"There is a great feeling of joy about the holiday season when you see this incredible crowd every couple of hours. The floor is packed with people," said Conte.
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