Starting at 4 am today, Hasbro set about doing something remarkable to Lombard Street. By 10 am this morning, the twisting road had be transformed into something almost everyone recognized immediately, “Candy Land”. With local personality Faith Alpher, of KKIQ, as the MC for the event, things started. She explained the rules to everyone who stayed down on the bottom as the participating teams from UCSF Children’s Hospital, Friends of Children’s Hospital and local Lombard Residents all went to the top of the famous street to play their biggest ever game of “Candy Land”. A total of 24 children took part in the game itself, 6 children on each of the 4 teams, Blue, Green, Red and Yellow.
That this event was doing with the cooperation of UCSF Children’s Hospital made it all the more meaningful considering the history of “Candy Land”. Much of what I learned about the history of “Candy Land” was from Patrica Riso of Hasbro. The game was created in 1949 by Eleanor Abbot in San Diego, California while recovering from Polio. The game was focused on simply letting people play and slip into the imaginary world of “Candy Land”. From start to “Home Sweet Home” (now Candy Castle), the game was a success. The game itself proved very easy to play, drawing a card and then moving the square closest to you of that color. “Candy Land” is a basic racing game, the simplicity of the design made it very accessible for everyone to play and eventually a common family pastime. Over the years the game itself has changed, but much of what originally made it so wonderful remains intact, its accessibility.
Faith called out the start of the game, with a little girl lifting the first of the giant sized cards for the game. Everyone around was having a good time, with Faith keeping a good commentary going, putting in many facts about the history of “Candy Land”. The “board” had pieces forty thousand times larger than the board game itself. It was complete with signs for Gumdrop Mountains, Lollipop Woods, Gingerbread Tree, Peppermint Forest and the Chocolate Swamp. Each of the One hundred forty two squares was about fourteen feet by twelve feet in the traditional colors of “Candy Land”. The twist and turns of Lombard Street made it ideal to become "Candy Land" Patrica told me, as we looked at the board game itself I could only agree. The game got under way at about 10:15 am with the Blue team, finishing at 11:30 with the Yellow team winning.
Once everyone had made it to the bottom the celebration proper began. As Faith skillfully kept the children from launching at the cake, a delicious Vanilla and Chocolate blend, she led everyone down there in singing “Happy Birthday” for “Candy Land”, then letting everyone go at the cake and get some candy. That Children’s Hospital was about to partake in this event was only appropriate as this game was meant to be played by anyone. As the children who played began to leave, the Event Staff began to hand out copies of the newest edition of “Candy Land” and share what was left of the cake with those who remained. At the end of the event, as they were beginning to take part the “Candy Land” board, I could only agree that it was a “sweet time for sweet folk”.* Candy Land names and characters are trademark and copyright of Hasbro.