PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It is believed to be the longest-running holiday season commercial in America.
But tri-state viewers never tire of the animated spot featuring a fir tree, bending down to lift the “Christmas star.”
“As part of the anniversary, we really wanted to give people new ways to celebrate or commemorate the Christmas star, and at the same time raise funds for Children’s Hospital,” says Eat ‘n Park spokesman Kevin O’Connell.
Commemorative cookies are sold online, while selected Eat ‘n Parks have shirts, mugs and tree ornaments.
At the Waterfront restaurant, customer Tammy Bowyer finds a gift for the nostalgic – a traveling mug with illustrations of the tree and little star.
“They’ve loved it all their lives,” she says. “It brings back many childhood memories.”
Jean Mikelos, 70, remembers.
“My grandkids see it now, and I tell them stories about when I was their age and went to Eat ‘n Park,” Mikelos said. “They think Eat ‘n Park didn’t exist back then.”
The idea for the timeless commercial came about in 1982, when Eat ‘n Park chairman Jim Broadhurst wanted to thank patrons for a successful Children’s hospital campaign.
He wanted something that would meet the test of time; something that would last 20 years. They got that and more.
“They worked for about three weeks, Craig Otto and Kathy Bowen,” O’Connell says. “They came up with a lot of ideas, but nothing was really it. Finally, on a Sunday, they were in trying to figure it out. And they drew a tree and a star and a story to go with it, and the rest is history.”
The commercial has 150,000 hits on YouTube. And www.eatnpark.com will tell you when it airs on television.
“It’s something unique about a Pittsburgh Christmas,” O’Connell adds. “You go to other cities and you’re not going to have a Christmas Star.”
It’s a 30-second glow that just goes on forever.