|What does Canonsburg have to do with Christmas TV history? Do you like Christmas music/variety specials?|
With summer winding down, I decided to hit the road again and enjoy a day trip. I wanted to stop at another site that connects to my love of popular culture and headed myself toward Canonsburg, Pennsylvania--just south of Pittsburgh. Canonsburg is the hometown of crooner Perry Como, and the city has erected a wonderful tribute to him in their downtown. I felt I needed to see it for myself.
|Perry Como's career is intertwined with Christmas TV history. His first TV appearance was on Christmas Eve 1948.|
I read online that the statue was located in downtown Canonsburg but I was worried about finding it. Turns out, it was quite easy to find! The statue is quite large and stands in a lovely landscaped courtyard in the city's center.
|What's your favorite Christmas song by Como? I think my favorite is "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays."|
The cement statue depicts Como holding a microphone. I thought this was a wonderful way to remember him. In addition to the statue, I found that the tree-lined main street of downtown Canonsburg featured grate covers around each tree with a Perry Como chart-topping hit song molded into each one. I ended up walking the full length of the street--on both sides--looking at each grate to note the song titles and the years each reached number one on the charts.
Once in Canonsburg, I also learned that the city is quite proud of another hometown son that made the hit parade--Bobby Vinton! I couldn't resist getting my photo with the street sign marking Bobby Vinton Boulevard.
Bobby Vinton Boulevard is also the location of a McDonald's restaurant that honors both Perry Como and Bobby Vinton with displays of memorabilia, photos, records, and more. That location was my stop after seeing the downtown statue.
Inside the restaurant, there is a lifesize, bronze statue of Como (and one of Vinton too). The walls are lined with displays of Como's recording career, photos, framed record cover albums, high school yearbooks, and more. Bet you never had a Quarter Pounder among Como memorabilia like this before!
|Bus your own tables and reflect on a local boy who made good!|
|Across from the cash registers at McDonald's, I found a framed 7" Christmas record.|
The McDonalds felt like a mini-museum. A back room even included a barber chair from one of the shops where Como used to cut hair before he left Canonsburg to become a professional entertainer.
|plaque next to barber chair display.|
As mentioned previously, the McDonalds also includes photos, records, displays and memorabilia honoring the singing career of Bobby Vinton as well. For our interests here, Vinton released several Christmas albums--got a favorite Bobby Vinton Christmas song?
|Lifesize bronze bust of Vinton in the McDonalds in Canonsburg.|
|Click to enlarge--this chart covered an entire wall at McDonald's.|
My day trip was a nice break from my routine. Christmas TV history is all around us, if we look for it. Have you ever traveled to a pop culture site too? Tell us about it in the comments below.
To revisit some of my past essays about Christmas pop culture destinations, check out the following links:
Dean Martin's hometown of Steubenville, OH
Rosemary Clooney's home in Augusta, KY
The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA
It's a Wonderful Life Museum in Seneca Falls, NY
Lucille Ball's birthday celebration in Jamestown, NY
A Christmas Story House & Museum in Cleveland, OH
Added October 2017: discussion of 1978 TV variety special Perry Como's Early American Christmas. Click here for link.
Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com