New York Wire Keeps Whistling Holiday Favorites
Christmas is coming…and you know what that means! No, it doesn’t mean you better be good. It means it’s soon time for the New York Wire Company’s annual Christmas morning Factory Whistle Concert.
Each year, shortly after midnight on Christmas morn, the night is filled with the eerie wail of the company’s factory whistle. It has become a treasured tradition among area residents, including the hundreds who brave the chill each year and gather outside our Market Street, York, PA, facility.
The concert, typically 15 to 20 minutes long, comes courtesy of Don Ryan, the Whistlemaster, who creates the sounds by sliding an adjustable valve, similar to a penny whistle.
Support for the concert is provided by our company and a team of community partners who have raised money and assisted with logistics to help keep the concert a treasured part of the York Christmas tradition.
This year, for the first time, the concert will be powered by air rather than steam. The switch was made to reduce costs and ensure that the concert continues for years to come. But the quality and loudness of the concert promise to match that of years past.
Historians say the first New York Wire Christmas concert took place in the 1920s, with an area music teacher standing at the helm. The tradition found renewed life in the mid-1950s, thanks to the first of three generations of Whistlemasters: Marlin, Don and Scott Ryan.
There is even a CD of one year’s concert, titled “Factory Steam Whistle, New York Wire Co.” and, on the package, the New York Wire Company whistle is referred to as “the world’s loudest music without amplification from a non-musical instrument.”
Depending on the weather, the music can be heard at least five miles away, and sometimes up to 10 or 12, depending on the wind. But one day, it was heard all over America, thanks to a segment on the CBS TV morning show.
You can hear other samples of the New York Wire Company whistle’s previous concerts here.
Those wishing to make donations for future Steam Whistle Concerts may send their tax deductible contributions to Steam Whistle Concert Fund, c/o PeoplesBank, 48 East Market Street, York, PA 17401, or call our concert partners at Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area, (717) 252-0229.