Title: X-Mas at the old Menlo Park Mall
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Posts: 193

(Date Posted:09/26/2011 21:24)

Talking to my sisters over the weekend we were recalling the old days at the original Menlo Park Mall with it's dark orange, tan, and mustard color scheme which, oddly enough, complimented the classic late 1950s-early 60s Populuxe design of the mall perfectly! Unlike the way too bright, sanitized, drab, cold, unimpressive, mausoleum-like atmosphere of the new Menlo Park Mall, the old mall just had a true magic to it - especially around Christmas time. Like so many kids growing up around that area of Jersey, I spent a good portion of my life there as a kid, a teenager, and later as a young man! IMO there was no better time than visiting THAT mall when the holidays grew near. It became a familiar place where Christmas just seemed to come alive growing up.  No holiday season felt right without a few visits to Menlo Park in December! 

I recall the center circle outside of Bamberger's (before it became Macy's) that featured a floor to ceiling Christmas tree complete with animated chipmunks set in the branches moving to the beat of familiar Chipmunk Christmas album selections...I recall the long stretch between Bamberger's and Alexander's (formerly Montgomery-Ward) that featured numerous animated displays like a look inside Santa's workshop, forest animals skating on a pond, kids decorating a victorian parlor, Santa's sleigh being filled by elves outside the North Pole toy factory, and one year a display called Muppets holiday on the moon (which went over to Stern's/Woodbridge Center for a few seasons). Arcadian Gardens also had a few displays but I can't remember much about that section of the mall except for a Chineese restaurant, a pet shop, beauty paror, and a Shop-Rite type store.

One of the best things about that mall (arguably) was Wooloworths down by the Alexander's end. Woolworth's simply had one of THE best selection of holiday albums and 8-track tapes IMO! The record department was way in the back and they had these bins that went completely around the outer perimeter of the record section filled with tons of now classic, probably much sought after albums. This is where I bought the reissue of PERCY FAITH-MUSIC OF CHRISTMAS, ANDRE KOSTELANETZ-WONDERLAND OF CHRISTMAS, both RAY CONNIFF CHRISTMAS albums back in the mid-to-late 1970s. A store or two past Woolworth's (situated near a small section of the mall that was on a slope) almost directly across form Penny's was a record store  - maybe Music Den - that always had a good holiday selection, but nothing like Woolworths. Musically, one thing I noticed around 1979 and 1980 was during the holidays the mall didn't totally rely on the typical Muzak selections of holiday music as heard in most stores and malls - Menlo Park played a great loop that was similar to what was heard over WPAT at the time.

Funny how after all these years, for some reason, you can remember so much about certain times and places in your life whenever it concerns Christmas!


Christmas Music Guru

Rank:Honorary Member

Status: Lawrence F. Arcuri Owner/Webmaster of TheYuleLog.com

RE:X-Mas at the old Menlo Park Mall
(Date Posted:09/27/2011 01:42)

Christmas has that incredible knack of evoking the most treasured and poignant memories of our lives.

And yes, the memories of the old Menlo Park Mall at Christmastime are great ones indeed. After the 1990-91 remodeling, the mall sadly lost its charm.

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Lawrence F. "Chip" Arcuri
Owner/Webmaster | The Yule Log.com




RE:X-Mas at the old Menlo Park Mall
(Date Posted:12/25/2011 21:28)

This thread makes me curious...anyone got any pics of the old Menlo (which I vaguely remember)?
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Christmas is Christmas all over the world!

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