The first image seen here is a newspaper article from May 25, 1906, in the Hummelstown Sun. Titled, “The Opening of Hershey Park,” it is announcing the formal opening of Hersheypark on Memorial Day – which was May 30 (until 1971 when Memorial Day was shifted to the last Monday in May).
This establishes the dedicated purpose of the park: “The Park will be dedicated to the use of anyone who may desire to avail themselves of the pleasure it offers.” It also states that the park has the following: “Green fields and spreading shade trees, the finest pure spring water in abundance, dancing pavilion, tennis courts, band stand and baseball grounds.”
The baseball game that was played that day was between Hershey and the Crescent Club of Harrisburg. Hershey easily defeated the Crescents. This, however, was not the first game played in Hershey – and though it is clearly established that the official opening of Hershey Park was on May 30, you can see the informal opening of the park 25 days earlier on May 5.
Hershey played in it’s first game against the Felton Athletic Club of Steelton. The grand stand and baseball diamond were brand new, and the baseball game was the first open air event in the history of Hershey. The new band was scheduled to play, and a pig-race was rumored. Turnout was expected to be high as this was the first major event in Hersheypark. (Felton A.C. won this game, sadly, 4-0.)
It makes sense that Hersheypark formally opened on Memorial Day, however. The holiday was still a somewhat solemn occasion – yet was also the unofficial start to summer. This made Memorial Day the proper day to formally open the park, as it was a solemn but fun day to recognize the opening of Hersheypark.