The York Factory Whistle Concert will ring in Christmas from a new home this year.

A few rehearsals at the new location at the Metso Corporation, 240 Arch St. in York City, have shown it to be a good fit, said Jeri Jones, a member of the committee that plans the annual concert.

"I'll tell ya, it's tremendous," he said.

The concert's organizers had to move the factory whistle from its old home at the New York Wire Co., after the company announced it would close its plant at 441 E. Market St. in York City.

The move: But the transition went smoothly, and whistle master Don Ryan is pleased with the facility, Jones said.

"Like Don was saying (Saturday), it was so clean, he had to wear a tuxedo," he said.

In the old days -- and up to about five years ago, Jones said -- pieces of cinderblock and steam from the pipes would come down onto Ryan, Jones said. Now the whistle's sound is produced by compressed air instead of steam, removing one old hazard.

Metso volunteered to house the whistle just a day after the concert's search for a new home appeared in the newspaper, he said. And the long-term home, complete with a closet for the whistle and a stage for Ryan, will let patriotic and holiday tunes ring loud as ever, Jones said. The whistle can be heard within a 5-mile radius, depending on atmospheric conditions.

"Last week, some people heard it in Dover Township," he said.

A tradition: The concert dates back to 1889, and it has been run every year since 1955 by the Ryans. Before Don, the whistle master was his father, Marlin.

Now, since it takes two people to play a factory whistle, Ryan's son Scott helps him continue the unique family tradition, Jones said.

"There is no music written for factory whistles, so Don's had to write his own music for these songs," he said.

This year's concert begins at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, Christmas morning, and will last about 20 minutes. As the only factory whistle Christmas concert in the world, it usually gets a warm reception, Jones said.

"The coolest thing is that people outside the community, when Don's done, they'll blow their horns," he said.

And since the Niagara Falls-like steam no longer comes down onto Ryan, he has retired his hard hat, apron and gloves, Jones said.

He might even perform in a tux on Wednesday.

-- Reach Mollie Durkin at