It all started because Buddy loves Hershey Chocolate bars. They are his favorite of all candy and it is rumored that he has a secret stash of Hershey Bars that none of us can find. Buddy’s love for the Hershey Bar lead him to the library; as do all of his passions. There, he checked out a book on Hershey and learned about the city of Hershey, Pennsylvania, the factory and the Hershey resort. So, when Man asked the boys what they would like to do for Spring Break, Buddy suggested a trip to Hershey.
Of course, Bug was all over this idea like sugar ants on a Hershey Kiss. Man’s interest was piqued and he began to do research.
“We could fly into Philadelphia, spend a few days there seeing the Liberty Bell and other historical places and then we could drive to Hershey and stay a night at the resort,” he laid out his plan to me.
“History and chocolate, huh? Won’t it be cold there? I mean, we should consider going some place warm for Spring Break! The kids love the beach…”
But I was out voted. Men 3, Lady 1.
The morning of the trip we woke up to about 10 inches of snow.
“Oh boy. So glad we are headed to another snowy locale,” I cheered dryly.
The drive was fine aside from one lunatic on the road who spun off to the side of the road and then a few minutes later zoomed passed us, skid out again and slammed into the side of a snow plow. This ping ponged him to the other side of the road, pointed in the wrong direction. But that didn’t stop him. He got back on the road, at top speed and continued his insane race. He was exiting to the rental car place as I was calling the police. CAN YOU BELIEVE?!
Aside from that our trip out of town was uneventful. The boys are wonderful travelers and so we were soon in Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love.
I liked Philly! The people there really are loving. Manners wise, it reminded me so much of the South! In Colorado, if you walk into a store or restaurant you are given a canned greeting. Something like, “Hello, how many?” or “Hello, let us know if we can help you find anything.” I often respond with, “Hello, how are you?” This is answered with a look of surprise and a stuttered response. I leave and say, “Have a great day!” and the clerks and service people are always pleasantly surprised by it. They like being spoken to like a “real person” and they are baffled as to why I would say those things to them when I’m not the one working for them. It’s kind of awful really. In Philly, no one was surprised by my polite salutations and they would very pleasantly offer the same. It was like Texas in that way!
There was one thing, however, we found very odd. While I was en-route to Philadelphia, I sat by a local who was very talkative and gave me all kinds of tips and ideas for what to do while in town. One of those things was a list of places for brunch. When I was telling Man of these places he interrupted me and asked, “Why was he giving you brunch places? Don’t they eat lunch and dinner there?”
“Oh…yeah. How funny! It didn’t even occur to me. Maybe he just figured we would get cheese steak for dinner and that we are on vacation so maybe we’d sleep in.”
After a morning of sight-seeing we set out to find a place to LUNCH at. It was 11:45. We passed restraunt after restraunt and they were all closed. Finally we found one whose door was propped open by a chalkboard sign advertising…brunch.
We were the only people in there until around 12:30 when groups of people finally started filling in the seats around us. They were all ordering from the Brunch menu, which is served from 11-4. That’s like all day in restaurant time! We were egged out from our BREAKFAST and so asked for lunch menus.
Before leaving I spoke to the waitress, “So, brunch seems to be a big deal here. Are places not open for lunch?” I explained to her how so many places were closed. Any other place I’ve ever lived, restaurants are packed from 11-2 for lunch.
“Huh,” she said, “I guess we are all sleeping off hangovers around here. Most of our restaurants serve a brunch or don’t open until evening.”
Anywhoo. The boys were love, love, loving all of the historical monuments and places in Philadelphia. We saw the Liberty Bell and toured Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Buddy kept marveling at the thought of walking in the same place as our Founding Fathers.
Bug really wanted to visit Benjamin Franklin’s grave. We did that, which I also loved. I always find old cemeteries so romantic! Imagine the lives lead by the people there! Were they heroic? Did they have a great love? The markers in this cemetery were so old, most names could not be read. Buddy had a hard time with our self tour of the graveyard. He felt we were disrespectful to be walking on some of these graves.
“That’s where they have laid the paths Buddy so I’m sure it’s OK.”
“But it’s obviously where a body would be!” he would argue.
“Buddy, there are no bodies in this place. They were buried so long ago those bodies are gone, as are their spirits. It’s fine,” I tried to reassure him.
“Or maybe…” Man began, “…maybe this place is full of sleeping…ZOMBIES!”
“K. Not helpful.”
We had dinner at City Tavern, one of the oldest taverns in Philadelphia. We dined, by candle light, in the hall where George Washington had his first inaugural ball. The servers wore colonial style dress and the fare was traditional of the time as well. The boys loved Thomas Jefferson’s favorite: sweet potato rolls!
Over dinner we talked about our favorite part of the day. The boys went on to say it was one of the best days of their lives!
“Really? Better than a day in Disney World?” I asked.
The boys pondered and weighed the question. They finally answered that Disney World could not be beat but this was very close to it.
You read that right.
The next day we headed out to Hershey. Again, we made our trip on snowy roads. The countryside was beautiful but they were not the warm beaches I was craving. I kept my grumbles to myself and tried to day dream myself to somewhere tropical.
Hershey, Pennsylvania! This has got to be one of America’s best kept secrets! It’s so fun! At Chocolate World there is an amusement park (closed in the winter and part of the spring), a zoo, gardens and of course, the world’s largest chocolate factory! They also have a golf course and a spa that offers a variety of chocolate themed treatments.
Our visit there began with a Trolley Tour that Man had booked in advance. The trolley took us all over the town while a guide told us all about the life of Milton Hershey and the history of the Hershey Chocolate Company. Throughout the tour he would pass back baskets of Hershey Kisses as they pertained to the story.
The boys were on cloud nine and a half!
The legacy of Milton Hershey is not in his chocolate, as most of us presume, but in his philanthropy. Mr. Hershey met a woman named Catherine, who he loved very much. They married but she unfortunately had MS. They would not be able to have children of their own because of her illness. Catherine told Milton that since they can’t have kids of their own, she wanted to do something for kids who don’t have parents.
So Milton Hershey opened an all boys school for orphan boys. They lived on the school grounds in homes with house parents. Each house of boys was cared for by a married couple because he didn’t want them to live in dorms but in homes. He had elementary through high school. All students were required to attend chapel. If a student wanted to attend a church of another faith they were still required to attend chapel with his house family and then transportation was provided for them to go to the place of worship that he chose. If students had passing grades and conduct, at graduation Hershey gave them a diploma, a suitcase full of a new wardrobe and $100.
The school was originally a trade school but now when the kids graduate they still get a diploma, a suitcase of clothes, and $100 as is tradition but they also leave with a laptop tucked under their arm and a $10,000 grant toward their college education. The school has included girls since the 1970’s and is no longer just for orphans but also for children who’s parents can not afford to keep them.
The program is completely free to the children and their families. Nothing is ever asked of them in return but to go out and do good for others as it was done for them. It’s completely funded by Hershey. No tax payers dollars or government funding is used or needed.
Catherine Hershey died 5 years after her schools were opened. There was no heir to the Hershey estate and so Milton left the whole thing to the schools so that he could continue to care for these kids forever after.
Yep. The tears were rolling. It was OK. I just popped another Hershey Kiss into my mouth. When you buy Hershey Chocolate, when you stay at the Hershey resorts or buy their souvenirs, you are supporting the kids at Catherine’s school. So eat that chocolate! It’s for the children!
(At Founders Hall, at the school, there were applications for married couples who would like to be house parents.)
When the trolley ride ended we were each handed a full Hershey Chocolate Bar as we exited.
You should also hear what this man did for his employees. A supremely generous man. This man truly lived out the gospel in his life and business and God blessed it.
Back at Chocolate World we got to make our own candy bar. We donned hair nets and aprons and went into a lab. We each chose different yummy’s to add to the bar. Bug wanted his to be as healthy as possible. He added raspberries and nuts to his and named it Fruity Bar. Mine had toffee and…hm…I don’t recall. I guess I’ll find out when I bite into it!
After watching our chocolate bars move down an assembly line, we went into another room to design our labels. After the bars and labels are made they are beautifully packaged in an aluminum tin with a sleeve of our wrapper design over it.
After that we took a ride through the “factory.” This was sort of like It’s A Small World at Disney. Your family is loaded into a car that rides on a track while an annoying song is played over and over and over as you are given a tour of an assimilated factory. It also reminded me of the Willy Wonka scene when they are on the boat going through the tunnel.
“Is it raining? Is it snowing? Is a hurricane a blowing?” I creepily sang to my family. “THE ROWERS KEEP ON ROWING AND THEY SHOW NO SIGN OF SLOWING…!!”
“Alright, calm down,” Man said while patronizingly patting my arm.
“You need to learn how to have fun.”
“By scaring the children?”
“Um…Zombies of the Revolution?”
After all the fun at Chocolate World we checked into our room at Hershey Lodge. The kids loved the Hershey Kiss wall paper and that there was Hershey candy hidden in the hotel room art.
“MOM! The shampoo is INFUSED with CHOCOLATE!” Bug yelled from the bathroom.
“Mmhm. That’s great.”
“I”M GOING TO SMELL LIKE CHOCOLATE!!!”
Over dinner, Buddy and Bug again discussed the trip and measured it on the Disney Meter. Disney was still tops but the scores were close.
The next day we visited the Hershey Museum followed by the zoo. The zoo is of North American animals. It was not that exciting as it was stocked with animals we see in our yard all the time. Fox, elk, hawks, bear, mountain lion. OK, we’ve only seen one mountain lion but we know they are there. They had a few fellas we don’t normally see such as the spoon billed…bird and an otter.
Now Reader, you know my love of the sloth and my dream to have one for a pet. After watching the otter play, I have changed my mind. I now want an otter for a pet. This seems more realistic because it’s native to our country. We could build it an enclosure off the side of the house with a retractable roof so Ollie (that’s what I’ve named him) can get plenty of natural light but we could close it to shelter him from snow. His enclosure will have lots of boulders and a pool with a slide. We could go in and play ball with him, swim with him and fill his little home with laughter…
“No,” Man said.
“OK, you didn’t even give it very much thought,” I argued.
“Don’t have to. No wild animals. No.”
“You’re not very fun,” I pouted. “Ollie would be fun.”
After the zoo, we drove back to Philly for dinner and bed. We flew out early the next morning. While standing in line to board the plane Bug said, “This is a trip that I will never forget!”
“Here, here!” agreed Buddy.
Indeed, Man planned a very FUN and memorable trip. Good job My Man! You are a very fun Daddy.