The Ellis A. Gimbel Trust has given the Associated Alumni of Central High School a  generous gift to be used to support the Central Music Department’s yearly theatrical production.

Mr.Gimbel was a member of the 79th class and a dedicated alumnus who visited the school on numerous occasions. His family opened the Gimbel Brothers’ Department Stores and Mr.Gimbel initiated the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.

He also founded “The Gimbel Fund,” which recognized women who had contributed to society in meaningful ways. Recipients have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl Buck and Justice Sandra Day O394_133193358362‘Connor.

However, Mr.Gimbel’s main interest was the welfare and entertainment of underprivileged children. Granddaughter Sally Taussig relates that her grandfather provided circus tickets for 10,000 needy or orphaned children each year.

“What better way could we find for us to support than your annual theatrical play,” Ms. Taussig said in a letter to AACHS.

Central Music Department Chairman Ben Blazer said the staff and students were overjoyed about the gift.

Ellis A.Gimbel, 79

“It means musical theater will be able to flourish for the foreseeable future and it will give all students access to the productions” said Mr. Blazer.

Previously the department has had to charge students a nominal price of about $3 to view the shows but with the Gimbel gift it won’t need to do that for now. “Things like the rights for the show, material rental, set design—they add up and now we have a source we will be able to draw from,” Mr. Blazer said.

With cast, orchestra members, stage crew and set designers, the annual musical can involve 300-500 students, Mr. Blazer said, so the gift provides wide direct benefit.

The alumni association also expressed thanks to the Gimbel Trust. “The AACHS is grateful to the Gimbel Trust and we look forward to working with the Trustees in the future.”

The musical “Oklahoma” for this school year will be performed April 16-19 (Thursday at 3:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.) The performances are open to the public and alumni are requested to come. Ticket-purchase information will become available at, the music department’s Facebook page and on this website.

Alumni are also invited to the winter concert at Central Thursday Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. Admission for the concert is whatever you wish to pay.