PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Every once in a while there comes a commercial that people actually enjoy watching. Again and again, in some cases!

KDKA’s Dave Crawley takes a closer look at a local yuletide favorite.

The Eat N’ Park restaurant chain produced the now familiar holiday spot – of the Christmas tree bending down to pick up the tree-topper star – 29 years ago.

During those years, that famous tree has brought just about as many smiles as those famous Smiley cookies. And the man who came up with the concept says that’s the idea.

“It made them feel good,” said Jim Broadhurt, the Eat N’ Park chairman. “It made them smile. This is the place for smiles.”

It was 1982. Broadhurst was batting around ideas with colleagues, hoping to come up with something to capture the restaurant’s philanthropic connection with Children’s Hospital.

“We wanted a commercial that kind of was a symbol of Pittsburghers helping kids in the hospital,” said Broadhurt.

“The tree by itself wasn’t very exciting. It was just a tree. But when it got a star on top of it, it just lit up and added a lot of excitement to it. But the star couldn’t get up there by itself. The star tried several times but ended up on the ground,” he said. “So the tree helped the star and the star helped the tree as well. So they helped each other.”

Teaming up with KDKA-TV and other area businesses, Eat N’ Park has raised more than $7 million for the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund. And that animated star and tree set the tone.

“To many people, it was the beginning of the season to them,” he added. “They didn’t really feel the Christmas season was upon them till they saw the commercial.”

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