Flipping the Switch on the Times Building
SCRANTON — Standing 301 feet tall, the radio tower atop of the Scranton Times building has become the center of a holiday tradition here in the electric city. It all began back in 1960 when Mayor James Hanlon flipped the switch.
“It was the idea of our radio chief engineer back in 1960 and my grandfather thought it was a great idea so they went ahead and lit it for the first time in 1960,” said Scranton Times-Tribune Publisher George Lynett.
Now this tower lit like a Christmas tree is something people in Scranton look forward to each year.
“It’s a tradition, since I’ve been growing up as a little boy in this town it’s been lit,” said David Kauffman of Scranton.
But lighting up the red, orange, yellow and blue bulbs wasn’t always so easy and couldn’t be done while radio station WEJL was on the air.
“There were, I think, eight strands of lights that had to be plugged in every afternoon when the station went off the air and unplugged every morning,” said Lynett.
If you do the math, this year should be the 54th lighting of the Scranton Times tower, but it’s only the 53rd. That’s because back in 1973 President Nixon asked the nation to conserve energy during the energy crisis, and the tower wasn’t lit.
A dark room leads out onto the roof where the switch was flipped once again as the Electric City parties on Penn Ave – another new addition to this holiday tradition.
“We used to have parties downstairs where it was just the guys who worked in radio and then we decided this is dumb, we should invite the whole public to come by and see this, so we started doing that a few years ago,” said Rock 107 Morning Show Host ‘Prospector’.
Throughout the Christmas season the lights will turn on and off automatically each night, helping spread holiday cheer.
“It’s so beautiful, it’s really nice to watch and it’s like so Christmasy and so heart-filling,” said Ann McDonald of Scranton.