Thu, 19 July 2007
"The Elves and the Shoes" from Holland is one of the simple but charming little accounts of the interaction between humans and elves, who were always playing pranks (the elves, that is -- although the humans may have done so as well). In this case, the prank involves the wooden shoes for which the Dutch are famous.
The Dutch are also famous for chocolate, so what better time to do a Dutch story than when we're in the chocolate capital of the world -- Hershey, PA. Especially since it's in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. True, the Pennsylvania Dutch are not really Dutch for the most part; they are descendants of settlers who came to the area primarily from Germany. (The German word for German is Deutsch, pronounced "doitch", which sounds like Dutch.)
Hershey is named for Milton Hershey, the king of chocolate, who was born in the area in 1859, and after many years of hard work, developed his chocolate-making process, established his factory, and built up an entire community around it. The factory is still here, of course, pumping out the enticing aroma of coacoa all around. So is Hershey Park, which he also developed, although it has grown into an amusement park with some of the most thrilling rides around. (We're especially fond of the coaster called Great Bear.) And there's a visitors' center called Chocolate World, which offers a Disneyesque ride through a simulation of the factory, except with singing dairy cows.
Mr. and Mrs. Hershey used their vast fortune to improve the lives of the less fortunate, and they were especially dedicated to assisting disadvantage children. To that end, they established Hershey School, which occupies 10,000 acres and currently has a student body of 1100. We performed at the school 15 years ago in the luxurious and cavernous Founders Hall, and we were astounded by the facilities and the type of care the students were provided.
Dennis (elf), Kimberly (elf) and Zephyr (Styff)