Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Definitive 1000

We are going to be counting down the Definitive 1000 things. Why are they Definitive? Because The Friendly Friends have deemed them as such.

964 - The Wanamaker Christmas Light Show

The Magic Tree in front of the not-yet-begun Light Show

Odd that I, Jewbacca, would be in charge of enshrining the Wanamaker Christmas Light Show in the Definitive 1000.

But it is truly one of my favorite things in the world.

First, a quick digression.

As some of you know, the wonderful succubusses people at that little mom and pop operation known as Comcast have built the tallest building in Philly. The lobby of this place has a gigantic LCD screen that displays various entertainments for the people passing through. It is a really, really cool TV screen.

All of that is an LCD screen. Above the bottom two rows of wood panels is actual video footage.

And that's about it. The Holiday Spectacular is being hyped as some sort of must-do Christmas event for Philadelphians.

Well, let me tell you, myself and Mrs. Jewbacca visited this "attraction" last night and were very greatly disappointed. I won't bore you with the details, since I was bored for 15 minutes with the details last night. As we walked out all I could say was that the screen was really, really cool.

CGI bulbs are no match for the real thing...

Which brings me to the latest addition to the D1000.

Everything that the Comcast show lacks is embodied in the 23,500 LEDs on the Magic Christmas Tree and in the instantly recognizable narration from Julie Andrews (though nowhere as awesome as the original provided by the Voice of God and NFL Films John Facenda) and in the 288,000 watts of energy used during the finale, pictured below...

The finale. The Light Show is a 15 minute animated trip through Christmas. It is 50+ years old and it is still awesome. That thing is like nine stories tall.

The Comcast show was no different than watching TV at someone's house. The Light Show is the Light Show. It's a bunch of figures made of lights built in 1955 that tell the story of the Nutcracker, Rudolph, Frosty, a magic sleigh ride through the sky and a train ride with Santa himself. No tricky camera angles, no computer aided editing, no CGI.

Hokey? Yes. Simplistic? Yes. Lo-tech? Yes.

And that's why it's insanely awesome every single year.

I watched the audience at both. The kids at Comcast looked like they were watching TV. They looked hollow and bored. The kids at Macy's watching the Light Show couldn't stop singing along. They couldn't stop exclaiming how cool things were to their parents. They couldn't stop gasping with excitement.

If that's not a ringing endorsement of the old-fashioned Light Show (albeit with LEDs now) I don't know what is. Other than this 33 year old Philadelphia kid giving it his seal of approval by enshrining it in the Definitive 1000.

Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

FFMatt said...

Awesomesauce. I remember worrying the whole thing would fall on me when I was a kid.