History of the Fairyland of Candles Part 3

By on June 6, 2018

This historical timeline is the third and final installment in a series of historical vignettes leading up the 175th Fairyland of Candles celebration on July 4th in the Lititz Springs Park.

1923 (80th anniversary)
Nearly 10,000 persons attended the festivities, with $2,300 collected at the gate in admissions. A total of 8,090 adult tickets were sold; and 1,649 children’s tickets were sold. That year, a new idea was tested during the candle illumination: A large revolving chain in which various floats with lighted candles were fastened was used. The Royal Italian fireworks were also a big hit as spinning wheels, which were incorporated into the show, complimented the ground effects which were witnessed by by all. A model of The Statue of Liberty was also set up and part of the lighted background that year, which added an extra patriotic effect to the celebration.

1933 (90th anniversary)
Unfortunately, the rain washed out much of the wooden framework which was carefully put in place a few days before July 4th. That year, one of the featured attractions in the park was the Corn Planter Indians, who arrived to town from Allentown and set up their teepees. The candle illumination consisted of extra decorations at the railing by the head end of the park which was much admired. Although fireworks were illegal to possess by the average citizen, two roadside stands in town were discovered selling explosives: one east of town in Rome, and one which was spotted along South Broad Street.

1939
That year, two new attractions which were added to the Fairyland of Candles was a Trylon and Perisphere, which were modeled after the two “modern marvels” of the New York World’s Fair. These structures, situated in the pool at the head end of the park, were constructed by the design committee of Walter B. Light, Robert H. Yerger, Charles E. Bowman, Christ Nissley, and Paul McCloud.

In 1939, models of the Trylon and Perisphere (two “modern marvels” of the New York World’s Fair that year) were constructed in the pool at the head end of the park.

1943 (100th anniversary)
“100th Candle Lighting Anniversary Saturday” was the top headline in the July 1, 1943 edition of the Lititz Record Express. And despite the war taking place, Lititz celebrated the 4th in the usual grand style as 5,000 persons attended. In recognition of this milestone, the park was adorned with 10,000 candles to celebrate the occasion. At 9:30 p.m., the illumination took place. A special attraction that year was a snowball fight with actual snow. This was also the year that LIFE Magazine featured the iconic celebration in their July 26 issue.

1956 (Lititz’s Bicentennial Celebration)
An audience of approximately 10,000 came to Lititz to celebrate not only Independence Day, but our town’s bicentennial. To mark the occasion, a record 12,000 candles were lit. 1956 was also the year that the water-driven Ferris wheel was re-introduced, and adorned with candles. Making its debut in 1894, the wheel had been used for years, but was discontinued when all of the original candle cups were broken or stolen.

1968 (125th Anniversary)
8,500 people made their way through the park gates that year. Local boy scouts Douglas Buchter, Jim Regennas, Dan Bender, Steve Bomberger, John Lefever, Kurt Herzer, and Martin Scherph led the ignition of the 5,000 wax candles.

1993 (150th Anniversary)
With temperatures reaching almost 100 degrees, Queen of Candles Bree Derr oversaw the lighting of the 7,000 candles used that year. Once the flame was passed on to the area scouts, they began to light the stream up and down the park. Before the fireworks began, the large crowds were treated to area performer John Bressler, who entertained the crowd with his renditions of ‘American the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

2000 (21st century millennium celebration)
An estimated 25,000 people packed the park for the event, welcoming the first 4th of July celebration of the new century. The day was filled with musical entertainment, games, food, fun, and several military encampments throughout the park. That year, a total of 7,000 candles were placed in the wooden planks up and down the stream. Kids and adults arrived in the park at 8:45 a.m. and took turns carefully dipping each candle in kerosene to prepare it for the evening’s show. The kerosene keeps the candles lit longer, with several still being lighted and going strong long after midnight each year.

 

Since 1921, wooden swans have been an integral part of the Fairyland of Candles aspect of the 4th of July celebration in the Lititz Springs Park.

The Origins of The Iconic Swans

For decades, decorative swans have been an integral part of the Fairyland of Candles. Represented by wooden cut-outs, they have watched over the celebration for nearly 100 years.

So why swans?

A new feature for the year 1921 that was added to the head-end pool for the candle illumination was candle-carrying swans with metal wings, and crafted by Molly Kreider, Woody Kreider and Press Kofroth. After all, what more peaceful and serene picture comes to mind when thinking of swans then when they are perched in a calm pool of water? That’s exactly what the creators of this tradition had in mind when they decided to place these structures at the head-end of the pool at the Springs. Like the Ferris wheel, admirers and park goers alike cannot help but think of these gorgeous birds when thinking of the Fairyland of Candles celebration–a vital part of Lititz’s 4th of July celebration for what has now been 175 years.

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

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