Chip Minemyer | Weighty holiday tradition: Thanksgiving edition is your shopping roadmap

Jim Wall wears two big hats here at the Centre Daily Times.

As head of production, he knows putting out our huge Thanksgiving day edition will be a lot of work for people who load shopping inserts into the newspaper and those who deliver that product.

But as audience development director, Jim also knows the Thanksgiving paper is among our most popular every year, with newsstands and boxes selling as much as three times as many copies as usual.

People want those Black Friday inserts, and Thursday’s paper will be packed with some 35 circulars with holiday specials at area stores, plus many in-paper ads from local and national businesses.

And, of course, you’ll find lots of news to read.

The Thanksgiving edition is indeed a holiday tradition, even as shopping creeps from Friday into Thursday evening.

And don’t hurt your back lifting that day’s paper off your doorstep or off the rack at your local store. It will be a monster.

“From a production and distribution standpoint, it takes hours of planning, preparing and distributing to make it work,” Jim said. “Year in and year out, I’m amazed at how much time, effort and hard, physical work both CDT employees and our contractors put in to make it a success.”

Our production folks started pre-packing inserts last week and will tackle more between Monday and Wednesday.

Our presses will run four hours early on Wednesday evening to make sure the packers and delivery people have time to do their work, which will run into the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.

“Once the press starts, it takes approximately 5 to 6 hours before the run is complete and all the papers are out to the contractors,” Jim said. “The mail room run time is 2 to 3 hours longer than on a normal Sunday. The paper itself is almost twice the size of a normal Sunday edition.

“Our contractors have to plan ahead and oftentimes bringing family members or friends down with additional vehicles to help get all the papers picked up and delivered. Other contractors make multiple trips back and forth from their routes to the CDT. Depending on the size of their routes, it can take an extra hour or two to deliver. It’s a lot of hard, physical work to get it done.”

If you see our carriers out and about this week, please tell them “thanks” for delivering that big paper on Thanksgiving.

What’s happening?

Friday’s editions of the CDT will include our annual “Holiday Happenings” special section — your guide to the many events going on across Centre County right through New Year’s.

We sent letters to communities, churches, schools and venues asking them to give us their schedules for the holidays.

I can tell you, there’s a lot going on, from Bellefonte Victorian Christmas to Merry Millheim to Boalsburg Hometown Christmas to the Festival of Trees and First Night State College.

School bands and choruses are busy practicing their holiday favorites, while local theaters are gearing up for a variety of seasonal films and performances.

Of course, local churches are readying for a busy season, including a long list of services on Christmas eve.

We’re sure you’ll find plenty to do in “Holiday Happenings.”

Getting animated

Another holiday tradition is almost here.

WJAC-TV, the local NBC affiliate based in Johnstown, will bring back its popular animated short movies beginning on Thanksgiving.

The shorts include “Frosty the Snowman,” “Suzy Snowflake” and “Hardrock, Coco and Joe.” The 1950s-era black and white films feature stop-motion animation and cartoons set to popular holiday tunes.

News director Jim Platzer said viewers love the shorts, each of which has its own Wikipedia page.

“We’ve been getting calls from people wondering when they’re going to start,” Platzer said.

Well, they will start airing at 5:55 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, then will rotate closing the station’s 5 p.m. newscast each evening until Christmas.

“The cartoons have been on longer than anyone still here has been at the station,” Platzer said. “Even the oldest people working here say the station was doing them when they got here.”

Platzer said a few years back, a new general manager who apparently had “humbug” in his blood made the ill-fated decision to pull Suzy, Frosty and the elves from Channel 6’s programming.

“There was such a public outcry that he quickly put them back on,” Platzer said. “He saw just how important they are to the community. We won’t be messing with them again anytime soon.”

The CDT and WJAC are news partners.