- Stephanie Toone The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
She doesn’t don the traditional holiday colors of green or red nor does she rub elbows with Santa, but Priscilla the Pink Pig is a holiday staple in Atlanta.
For five decades, the Pink Pig has been a treasured monorail ride that gets little ones and Atlantans of all ages in the holiday spirit. In 1956, Rich’s department store in downtown introduced Rich’s Pink Pig, a monorail ride on the roof of the store that gave riders a bird’s eye view of the toy department.
Now, known as Macy’s Pink Pig, the ride takes off atop Lenox Square mall and offers a colorful, storybook adventure, beginning in late October and running all the way through New Years’ Eve.
If you’ve ever wondered why lines form and hundreds of people flock to the simple train ride each holiday season, wonder no more:
You can ride the pink pig dozens of times during the holiday season.
Though dozens of folks lined up on opening day, most said that ride would be the first of many. John Blanchard came out with his sister and his kids Saturday, Oct. 28. It’s a 10 year tradition to take their first Macy’s Pink Pig ride on opening day. The food, face painting and fellowship make opening day special.
“You’ve gotta start the holidays with Pink Pig,” Blanchard said. “It’s just fun you’ve got all the little decorations inside and the message from Priscilla.”
For Blanchard, his first ride marks the countdown to Christmas Day. His family will take the ride at least a few more times before it ends on Dec. 31.
“After this, the tree lightings and seeing Santa will be the next big family deal.”
Priscilla tells a story that can warm the coldest heart.
For Justina Stewart, the best part of the ride is hearing the recorded story told by Priscilla herself. Stewart and her family have come out to Macy’s Pink Pig every season for the last several years.
“Priscilla tells the story about how she wanted to be like her friends. She wants to do stuff like her friends that did amazing things, and she wanted to be like her mom. At the end of the story, she gets to do those amazing things,” Stewart said.
Tony Rhodes makes that story happen each year. He has helped build the stage, tent and other elements of Pink Pig for Macy’s for nearly 15 years. It takes Rhodes and his crew about a month to build the Pink Pig attraction.
“I take a lot of pride in it,” Rhodes said. “It sort of opens up the holiday season for me. Whenever I see the big Pink Pig neon sign go up, it’s sort of gets everything started.”
The Pink Pig swag is almost as important as the ride.
Right outside the monorail train, Macy’s Pink Pig has a retail store with everything from Pink Pig ornaments and T-shirts to stuffed animals. Each year, there’s a new assortment of Priscilla merchandise.
Belinda Gregory, an Atlanta native, has made riding the Pink Pig a 30-year tradition. Over the years, she’s collected Priscilla’s storybook, several stuffed Priscilla’s, ornaments and jewelry from the Pink Pig store.
Gregory enjoys dressing up her favorite stuffed elephant, whose name is Priscilla - no surprise - in the various Pink Pig apparel.
“We’ve got the book at home,” Gregory said. “They sell different little outfits. They had little pajamas one year. I just love all the Pink Pig stuff.”
In addition to the apparel, families can take photos with Priscilla and buy various photo packages.
The ride helps a good cause.
For Gregory, being a kid at heart makes the Pink Pig worthwhile, and the fact that a portion of the proceeds of every ride helps sick kids at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta adds meaning. Since Macy’s re-introduced the Pink Pig in 2003, more than $800,000 has been donated to Children’s Healthcare. Gregory makes sure she goes as many times as possible to support Children’s Healthcare.
It’s one of the most affordable holiday happenings in Atlanta.
One Macy’s Pink Pig ride is just $3. From there the ride is discounted, with two rides going for $5.50 and three rides priced at $7.50. If you’d like to hop aboard the Pink Pig, you can check out accessatlanta.com/holidaysinatlanta for more details on hours and tickets.