Motion Picture News, January 7, 1928:
“Christmas time at the Embassy theatre is the time for hanging up stockings and the kiddies of Orange, East Orange, West Orange and other suburbs bring their stockings to the Embassy, where they are hung in the lobby.
[Richard R.] Reilly [manager] inaugurated his idea as early as November 26. On that day, at the Saturday matinee performance, he told the kiddies of the coming of Santa Claus to the Embassy and he emphasized the fact the following Saturday. The children came and brought their stockings, which were left with ushers who gave the children a number and took their names.
“The stockings were then hung in the lobby with the number of the child placed on each stocking so that attending kiddies always could pick out their stocking, show them to companions and to parents.
“Every Saturday meant a holiday for the children. As they came into the theatre they saw Santa Claus filling up various stockings. This until Saturday, December 24, when the last stocking was filled. So great was the response from the children that on Saturday, December 3, the day set for the bringing of the stockings, there were 2,397 kiddies at the matinee. The number of stockings brought during the period was 1,227.
“The sight in the Embassy lobby and foyer was a picturesque one. The stockings, filled with presents, were returned to the kiddies on Saturday, December 24, which coincided nicely with Christmas Eve., Reilly placed in several of the stockings season passes to the Embassy.
“He further ingratiated himself with the children by having the children who received season passes report to him every Saturday matinee before the theatre was opened.
“The manager took these children into his office, showed them the activities going on before a theatre is opened to the public, got their reactions to pictures and did everything to make them happy.”
Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the year by the Theatre Historical Society.
He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2014.