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The little boy was worried the main attraction of Christmas would melt away if the weather warmed up in the Square in downtown Carlisle.

He looked on with wonder as workmen added a layer of crystals to the fresh coat of paint so that the dome would sparkle like ice in the glare of the spotlights.

This week’s Tour Through Time focuses on December 1947 and the novelty of having an artificial igloo as Santa’s headquarters on the lawn of the First Presbyterian Church.

The Sentinel was on the scene as carpenters from local contractor Ray B. Lackey assembled the 4-ton structure of heavy plaster over a frame of steel, lumber and cement.

They were joined by technicians from Billet Electric Store and riggers from United Telephone Co. The igloo came complete with interior lighting, heat and holiday decorations.

“It is 19 feet in diameter across the base and 8 feet high at the center,” the newspaper reported on Dec. 3. “It rests on a 2 1/2-foot platform. Steps from the sidewalk lead over the low iron railing around the lawn. There is an entrance in front and exit in the rear.”

About 11,000 invitations were mailed out from the Carlisle branch of the North Pole post office to children in Cumberland, Perry, Adams, Franklin and York counties. More than 400 teachers helped the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce compile a list of boys and girls younger than 12.

A big deal in December, the igloo had lost much of its luster by Jan. 2, 1948, when The Sentinel ran a story about its expected move to an outdoor site near the Carlisle Inn. Cracks had appeared around the base of the structure, and there was doubt the igloo would survive until next winter.

There was no mention of the igloo in the newspaper coverage of Christmas 1948.

Tour Through Time runs every Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with staff at the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to offer a look at the county through the years.

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News Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.