Two Center City holiday displays glow brightly

Yes, Virginia. There is a Macy’s holiday display. The Center City location of the department store continues a half-century tradition with its holiday light pageant in its central atrium.

But a new kid on the block is giving that Philadelphia mainstay a run for its money.

When the Comcast building opened three years ago with its high-definition video wall in the lobby, it immediately became the platform for a state-of-the-art Christmas display. A hundred thousand people came to see it last year, double the number of visitors during the first year.

It’s a very high-tech show done on a 10,000-millimeter screen,” said vice president Karen Buchholz. “There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. It’s very exciting to see, but contains all the elements that are warm about this holiday.”

Comparing the Comcast video wall with the Macy’s holiday light display is like comparing the Xbox with an Atari. But the LED snowflakes and reindeer with organ accompaniment form a 55-year tradition that won’t die quietly.

Amber Stopper and Ben Levin brought a pair of 2-year-olds to Macy’s, which was Wanamaker’s when the light display started decades ago.

“Even though it’s low-tech, it’s very enjoyable, it’s inspirational,” said Levin.

“It made more sense to them, they are kind of pre-verbal,” said Stopper. “They dug this more than they did the Comcast one.”

One thing Macy’s has over Comcast is carpeting. At the top of every hour, several dozen parents still plop their kids down on the red rug to watch the same display they themselves grew up with.

To view a clip of the Comcast display click the video below by Kimberly Paynter.

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