Skip to content
Inquirer Morning Headlines
Link copied to clipboard

500,000 Christmas lights | Morning Newsletter

And students feel unsafe going to school after SEPTA beating.

Longwood outdoor landscape manager Troy Sellers is responsible for the 200 foot tunnel of lights in the Meadow Garden at A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. on Nov. 18, 2021. A Longwood Christmas is on view at Longwood Gardens November 19-January 9.
Longwood outdoor landscape manager Troy Sellers is responsible for the 200 foot tunnel of lights in the Meadow Garden at A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. on Nov. 18, 2021. A Longwood Christmas is on view at Longwood Gardens November 19-January 9.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

Happy Sunday and happy holidays! This week is Thanksgiving, and for many, the official start of the winter holiday season — including Christmas light displays.

Today, we’re taking a trip inside one of the biggest light displays in the region. But before we get there, I’m wondering: What are your favorite holiday songs? These can be songs related to religious holidays, or maybe you just have that one song that sounds like this time of year to you even if it wasn’t originally written for it.

Reply to this email to let me know about your favorite holiday songs, and maybe I’ll put them on a playlist for everybody to check out.

— Lauren Aguirre (@laurencaguirre,

Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights are glistening in Pennsylvania at Longwood Gardens. This show started setting up in mid-August, with help from 300 employees. And now, there are 40 miles of wiring and 500,000 lights on display.

This year’s theme is “Fire and Ice,” and it includes a light assortment that spokesperson Trish Evans described as “lots of fiery red and ambers to cool blues and icy whites.” In its 49th year, the show draws thousands of visitors every year from the region and around the world.

Get a look inside Longwood Gardens’ light show and its history from reporter Anthony R. Wood.

The week ahead

  1. Philly Marathon weekend continues today with more events and road closures. Check what’s closed and SEPTA detours here.

  2. The beating of a teenager on a subway in Philly has reignited fears in the city’s Asian communities about racially motivated violence, and it’s left some students worried for their safety commuting to and from school.

  3. Sixers coach Doc Rivers said no one should be surprised that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges in the deadly Kenosha shootings. “We keep being disappointed and keep having surprises, but nothing changes, and it’s sad.”

  4. Gopuff drivers have planned a 24-hour strike Tuesday over wages and working conditions. Dozens of drivers are also expected to demonstrate at the company’s Philly headquarters.

  5. Government scientists determined that vials marked “smallpox” found in a Montgomery County lab did not actually contain the virus that causes the deadly illness.

  6. SEPTA is well on its way to its goal of having a zero-emission bus fleet with its latest purchase of hybrid buses.

This week’s most popular stories

Inside The Inquirer

Over the course of the federal trial of longtime labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and City Councilmember Bobby Henon, we learned a great deal about relations between city unions and politicians.

In the room for the proceedings was our reporter Jeremy Roebuck, who, alongside our colleague Oona Goodin-Smith, spent every day listening to testimony, contextualizing the evidence, and offering insight before, during, and after the verdict.

In the aftermath of the guilty verdicts, we wanted to know the lessons our reporters learned. Here’s what Jeremy told us:

What’s the one big takeaway from the trial readers should know about the impact of labor unions in Philly?

Philly is undeniably a pro-labor town, with many elected representatives reliably supportive of organized labor, and IBEW Local 98 has been a primary driver in shaping that character by propelling dozens of candidates who support its goals into statewide and local office. The 4,700-member local is the largest independent source of campaign money in the state.

Union fund-raising and manpower have helped elect mayors — including Jim Kenney — and City Council members like Bobby Henon, as well as county commissioners, members of Congress, state legislators, governors, and more than 60 judges, including John Dougherty’s brother, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty.

What if any impact does the outcome of this case have on future relations between city officials and labor unions?

I wouldn’t expect the verdict to necessarily change the relationship between city officials and unions, aside from perhaps giving newly elected representatives pause before accepting an outside job with a union while also routinely voting on matters to benefit their employer.

So where does Local 98 go from here and how strong is its pull with the loss of Johnny Doc?

It will be interesting to see how Local 98′s potency as a political force weathers the loss of Dougherty, a force of nature who has largely been credited for building the union into what it is today during his three decades at the helm. The money the union wields in campaign contributions to candidates will still be there. But will the local’s next leaders have the same interests, level of obsessive drive, and political savvy as their predecessor?

Follow Jeremy Roebuck as he continues to cover the federal courts, white-collar crimes, and criminal misuse of power on Twitter at @jeremyrroebuck.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

A community center in Philly found an old safe in one of its closets, and firefighters cracked it open last week. They found a few old envelopes and some money inside.

Can you guess how much? Check your answer here.

Weekly Playlist

With Adele’s new album, it’s officially Sad Girl Fall. So, I updated my fall moods playlist to add one of my favorite tracks from 30 — “I Drink Wine.” But I’ve got some solid bops on there for you too.

This season is often about endings, but for me, fall is more about moving on to a shiny new beginning. So, we can cry it out and then be uplifted by some jams together. Listen to the playlist here.

And you can pair your feelings with some wine and spirits recommendations from my colleague Joseph Hernandez.

Photo of the Day

And that’s all, folks. Hope you have a great week and a nice break with the holiday.