Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hershey: The Sweetest Place in the World

The Sweetest Place to visit with your Sweetie

No trip is as much fun as when you have fiends to travel with you. Recently, my wife and I flew from St. Louis to Columbus, Ohio where we were met by our son, Randy, who drove us to meet his wife, Melissa, and our two grandchildren, Zach and Emily. After a good meal together, he drove us to the home of our friends Jim and Jean Lowe who were going to drive us to Hershey, Pennsylvania the next day for nearly a week in the area.

Hershey is the town Milton Hershey built with the largest chocolate factory in the world. We were amazed at the many products manufactured by this single company.

Raised in rural central Pennsylvania by Swiss Mennonite parents, was hampered by the lack of a formal education was nearly bankrupt by the time he was 30. Milton S. Hershey went on to become not only one of America’s wealthiest individuals, but also a successful entrepreneur whose products are known the world over. He was a visionary builder of the town which bears his name and a philanthropist whose open-hearted generosity continues to touch the lives of thousands.

He and his wife Catherine never had children so his fortune was given to create and provide the resources to educate poor and underprivileged children. When founded, the school was called the Hershey Industrial School and was intended for the basic education of poor white boys. Four students were in the first class. Current enrollment is about 1,700. The name was changed to the Milton Hershey School in 1951. It became racially integrated in 1968 and allowed female students beginning in 1977.

The student all live is provided homes with substitute parents to give them a role model with all clothes and food provided free of charge as is the school.
Today, the student population hails from 29 states and Washington, D.C., but seven out of 10 of the students are from Pennsylvania.

During the last century, about 8,600 people have graduated from the school. If the past is any indicator, about half of the 1,700 students enrolled this year will go on to four-year colleges and 40 percent will attend two-year colleges or technical schools. Students can earn more than $70,000 in college scholarship money from the school.

Milton Hershey signed over his entire $60 million fortune as an endowment for the school. The original endowment has grown to $6.3 billion, making MHS "the best endowed K-12 school in the nation ... also exceeds most universities," according to author Rob Hardy. To put that into perspective, Penn State's total endowment reached $1 billion in June.

The Milton Hershey School's land holdings include more than 10,000 acres, or about 15.5 square miles, in Dauphin, Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

On September 13th, five-thousand people celebrated Milton Hershey's 152nd birthday in Hersheypark Arena. Attendees also celebrated the centennial anniversary of the Hershey Industrial School for orphaned boys which were under preparation when we visited the school.
After visiting the Chocolate World, where we viewed how the Hershey products are made, we took a trolley ride though the city. The trolley guide saw to it we had plenty of free chocolate during the tour. It was a very unforgettable ride and made me feel more appreciative of the Hershey family. I need to advise you that one day is not near enough to see everything in Hershey but we picked out our choices early.

Jim and I visited the Antique Auto museum, and what an eye opener, as we saw many types of cars including three Pierce-Arrow’s, a Ferrari, DeLorean, Bizzarini, and a Lamborghini. Besides the 100 or so cars, there was a whole floor given to motorcycles and scooters. On the lower level was an assortment of buses of every type vintage.

After this excursion, we met our wife’s for an Italian meal at the popular Fenicci's Restaurant on Chocolate Avenue in downtown Hershey.

The next time you are in Pennsylvania, be sure to give Hershey a couple of days and you will find and we did it is the sweetest city in the world.

“My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.” Psalm 104:34

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