Presidential History & Hershey, PA
A Who’s Who Guide of Presidents That Have Visited Hershey
Celebrated officially since 1971, Presidents Day is a national holiday. With Hershey, PA centrally located, and the ability to host thousands of guests, the town that chocolate built is often seen as the go-to venue for large events that have brought former presidents to town. What better way to commemorate Presidents Day than by revisiting the presidents who enjoyed a visit to The Sweet Place On Earth throughout the years.
In October 1953, the National Republican Party hosted a birthday party for then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Since the number of guests attending was in the thousands, the celebration took place in three different venues across the complex including Hershey Stadium, Hershey Sports Arena and a Barnum and Bailey Ringling Brothers Big Top Tent that was erected specifically for the event.
President Eisenhower must have enjoyed his time in Hershey because he returned for a dinner at The Hotel Hershey in 1960. This time, he brought Vice President Richard Nixon. Three years later, he returned for a “Stag” dinner. This was also at the Hotel and followed a format used during his White House years where he invited scholars, business and cultural leaders to gather and discuss issues and ideas.
August 12, 1964, would be the final time President Eisenhower made his way to Hershey after leaving The White House four years earlier. The occasion was a summit meeting of GOP leaders and was held at The Hotel Hershey.
Fast-forward to the first Bush administration. In 1988, George H.W. Bush visited the town and received an exclusive tour of the Hershey Chocolate Factory.
Then-Texas Governor George W. Bush visited Chocolate Town on April 3, 2000, and attended a Pennsylvania Republican fundraiser at The Hotel Hershey. About 200 people attended the reception, which benefited the candidates for Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives. The President was so impressed with the service, he sent the General Manager of the Hotel a letter complimenting the service and experience.
Four years later, President George W. Bush returned to Hershey. In this instance, he spoke at Hershey Lodge (then known as Hershey Lodge and Convention Center). On October 21, 2004, a Victory 2004 rally for President Bush was held at Hersheypark Stadium. His last visit (to date) was September 2011 where he served as the keynote speaker for the PA Chamber of Business and Industry annual dinner held at Hershey Lodge.
When Donald Trump was campaigning for the presidency, he visited Hershey in November 2016 for a rally at GIANT Center. A few weeks later, he returned to the venue as President-Elect Trump during his ‘thank you tour.’ His most recent visit was in December 2019 during the 2020 presidential campaign.
We are proud of our deep history and rich legacy and welcome the opportunity to continue welcoming presidents to our destination.
The Hershey Community Archives provided the historical data for this post.