Back long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before there were malls, there was a large, historic department store in downtown Atlanta named Rich’s. We’d bundle up in the car and head up to Atlanta to see Santa, his reindeer and then ride the Pink Pig. The Pink Pig was a monorail ride that traveled above the toy department, where you could look down and hopefully spy your parents buying the object of your greatest childhood desire when they thought you weren’t looking. The pig was named Priscilla. The ride was so popular that in later years, her brother Perceval showed up to help carry the kids. You got a sticker for your achievement that you tried to wear to school for days until it finally disintegrated from being moved from garment to garment.
There was also a Secret Shop, where you could shop for your parents under the watchful eye of beautiful and elegant helpers. You’d leave with wrapped presents for Mom and Dad, and they would really be surprised on Christmas morning!
Atop the bridge between the Rich’s buildings sat the Great Tree. It was lit on Thanksgiving night and kicked off the official Atlanta Christmas season. Multiple choirs vied for the honor to sing at the Lighting of the Dream. Hubster’s high school sang one year. It was also a popular “date night”
Years later, the Pink Pig was moved to the roof of the downtown store, circling the Great Tree. We took our toddler daughter to ride. The seats were still designed for children, so my burly non-beta-male husband squeezed into his own seat. We rattled around and got our sticker. The circle of life was complete.
When the downtown store closed, many of us that grew up with the Rich’s traditions considered it the end of an era. In 2003 the Pink Pig was revived and returns each year. Priscilla is now a small train (that can hold most adults) set up in a tent outside the Lenox Macy’s store, which is also the home of the Great Tree. Traditions remade are still traditions. And these are some of Atlanta’s best.
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