For 24 years, the Hillside Playground Association has transformed Hillside Playground (located on North 14th Street in the city of Reading) into a Christmas Wonderland. It has become affectionately known as “Christmas on the Mountain.” This free to enter display, with more than a half million lights, inflatables and decorations, along with Santa’s workshop, has become a holiday tradition for many Berks County residents. This summer, the Hillside Playground Association disbanded and announced the end of their operations. “Christmas on the Mountain” was not going to see its 25th year.
When Savage 61 General Manager Tim Profit (a 1999 Reading High School graduate) read a June 18 headline announcing the news, he was going to try and keep the tradition alive.
Since mid-summer, he has been working toward his goal to build a sustainable model to ensure that Reading’s “Christmas on the Mountain” need never be rescued again. This meant securing ongoing manpower, technical experience and funding.
Finding manpower to put on such a display ended with a simple solution. The Reading High School Marine Corps JROTC committed to the setup and ongoing operational manpower of their 600 cadets. These are a great group of young men and women who have taken ownership of this project.
The electrical infrastructure of the display was unsafe and needed major upgrades. Richard Carpenter, President and CEO of Leesport based Axcess Industries and 1997 Reading High School Graduate, has stepped up as a presenting sponsor and committed to building a safe and reliable power distribution system.
Readings “Christmas on the Mountain” exists today solely because of the support of local businesses. While Savage 61 Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Axcess Industries provided the majority of the startup funding, this project would not be possible without the substantial investment in this Reading tradition from the following businesses: Y102 Real Rock Variety (Reading); Salute Ristorante Italiano (Sinking Spring); Berks Digital (Reading); Riverfront Federal Credit Union (Reading); Yuengling’s Ice Cream (Orwigsburg); Smith Law Group (Fleetwood); Reading Fightin’ Phils/Baseballtown Charities (Reading); Berks Fire Water Restorations (Reading); DaBrian Marketing (Reading); G.L. Financial Group (Reading); and Pro Max Fence Systems (Reading).