Enchanting the Pink Palace

The Enchanted Forest began at the Goldsmith’s department store in Downtown Memphis. George Hettinger, designed the display, initially spreading out the characters throughout the store. The display grew each year, drawing visitors to walk through the ground floor displays. In the 1970s, Barry Hartzog, the store’s visual merchandising director, revitalized the exhibit by adding new characters that were child sized. Olive Gamble, the Goldsmith’s seamstress, made new costumes for the characters each year. In 1990, when the department store was struggling, they donated the Enchanted Forest to an organization called TWIGS.

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The TWIGS (Together We Initiate Growth and Sharing) was an auxiliary group that formed in 1978 to support and raise money for Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center. Le Bonheur itself began in 1923 when a group of young Memphis women gathered to make clothing for the children of the Porter-Leath Orphanage.  The called their sewing circle “le bon heur,” the good hour. It would later become the Le Bonheur Club.  As the club’s membership grew, its activities expanded.  Some of the ladies began to provide transportation for the orphans to their pediatricians.  In 1944, when the Memphis Pediatric Society envisioned a hospital completely dedicated to children, they looked to the Le Bonheur Club for help.  In eight years, the women of the club raised two million dollars for the construction, equipment, and needs of this new hospital.  In honor of these women and the efforts of their club, the hospital was christened Le Bonheur.  On June 15, 1952 the doors of the hospital opened with a grand ceremony and ribbon-cutting.  The key was tied to a balloon and allowed to float away; symbolizing that Le Bonheur’s doors would be open to any child in need.

The TWIGS’ first fundraiser was a tree decorating contest, which eventually turned into the Festival of Trees. This event grew each year until it included a café, bazaar, gingerbread village and model railroad exhibit. When Goldsmith’s donated their characters, the festival was renamed the Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees and relocated to the Memphis Agricenter. In 2002, TWIGS decided that they needed a smaller venue, and the Enchanted Forest moved to the Pink Palace Museum. From mid-November until the end of the year, the temporary gallery is transformed into a sparkling wonderland, complete with Santa and snow.

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One thought on “Enchanting the Pink Palace

  1. Reblogged this on Ideas and Thinks and commented:
    This year my main task at the Enchanted Forest was throwing glitter snow. It may have devolved into a glitter snow fight. If you can’t have fun at work, then why are you going?

    Here’s my latest post on the PP blog about the history behind the EF and the hospital that it supports:

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