Despite the shock and sorrow of a plant closing, there is some hope for the future of the York Factory Whistle Concert.
This year's concert will go on at 12:15 a.m. Christmas Day, said Jeff Hines, chairman of the factory whistle concert committee.
"But first we want to say that our thoughts are with the employees and their families as they work through this difficult situation of the factory closing," Hines said. "It's a beautiful old York factory business. However we go from here, we want to honor (the factory's) history in York and how it helped build this community."The New York Wire Co., which hosts the concert, plans to close its York plant at 441 E. Market St., the state Department of Labor and Industry confirmed Friday morning.
All 170 jobs at the York factory will be lost, but employees of the York plant can bid into jobs at the company's second location in Hanover, said Mike Smeltzer, executive director of the Manufacturers' Association of South Central PA.
Workers with the most seniority will be able to keep their jobs, with the
170 least-senior employees at both plants combined losing their jobs, Smeltzer said.
The state department is waiting on a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice to be filed by the company that will indicate details such as date of closure, said department spokeswoman Lindsay Bracale.
New York Wire dates back to 1888, and the well-known holiday whistle concert started the next year, in 1889, said
whistle master Donald Ryan.
Officials from New York Wire could not be reached for comment.
Hines said his committee is working with factory officials to make sure this year's concert will happen and the musical tradition will continue.
In the future: "Ideally we would like to keep the concert there," Hines said. "The building and the whistle kind of go together. We would like to have future use of the (site) or work with a future owner to stay there."
If necessary, the committee would consider moving the concert to another local site, Hines said.
The concert's financial future is secure, as a York Factory Whistle Concert Fund has been set up at the York County Community Foundation.
"Regardless of what happens, the concert will go on," Hines said.
Concern: Ryan, who conducts the annual concert, said he was shocked to hear about New York Wire's plans to close. He said he is very concerned about the concert's future.
"I've been with it almost 58 years, and this is part of my life," said Ryan, 69, of Springettsbury Township. "I was 12 years old when I started with my father. As long as the Yorkers want it, I'll keep doing it."
Ryan said he plans to practice on the whistle Saturday, Dec. 22, to prepare for the Christmas morning concert.
The concert will not be the same without New York Wire Co., he said.
The company made sure the concert equipment was maintained. It paid $35,000 in 1986 to replace the whistle boiler, which was only used for the concert, Ryan said.
Over the next 20 years the company helped pay for equipment rental and concert expenses, said Ryan, who now uses an air compressor for the concerts.
"I can't say enough what (New York Wire) has done for York," he said. "I hope this is not the last time for the concert. This is something positive for York."
--Staff writer Christ ina Kauffman contributed to this report. Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdis patch.com.