Edison quickly moved forward with his plans to publicly exhibit the light and gave John Kruesi the task of overseeing the preparations, which he detailed in an order book. Edison’s staff wired the laboratory complex, houses, and other buildings at Menlo Park and set up a line of poles with lamps to light the streets, all connected with a generator located in the machine shop. Reports of the successful demonstration for the Electric Light Company investors on December 27 brought large crowds of curiosity-seekers to see the new system as it was exhibited during the New Year holiday.
On December 30, according to the New York Herald, "Menlo Park [was] thronged with visitors coming from all directions to see the `wonderful' electric light. Nearly every train that stopped brought delegations of sightseers until the depot was overrun and the narrow plank road leading to the laboratory became alive with people. In the laboratory the throngs practically took possession of everything in their eager curiosity to learn about the great invention." Somehow amidst all the confusion final preparations were finished for the public demonstration the following day.
The Herald described another enthusiastic crowd for the New Year's Eve demonstration:
Extra trains were run from east and west, and notwithstanding the stormy weather, hundreds of persons availed themselves of the privilege. The laboratory was brilliantly illuminated with twenty-five lamps, the office and counting room with eight, and twenty others were distributed in the street leading to the depot and in some of the adjoining houses. The entire system was explained in detail by Edison and his assistants, and the light was subjected top a variety of tests.
The front page of the New York Daily Graphic depicted the demonstrations.
The following day the large crowds again came to the laboratory where they "went pellmell through the places previously kept sacredly private." By the end of the day, the Herald reported, Edison felt compelled to order the laboratory closed to the general public, "directing, however, that the private dwelling in Menlo Park, as well as the street lamps, be kept burning nightly, so that those who come will not be disappointed."
Edison had to close the laboratory to visitors in order to continue work on the lighting system. He understood better than anyone that he had only demonstrated that it worked on a small, experimental scale. Bringing the system into commercial operation would require an intensive effort to refine each part of the system to make it reliable in public use. Perhaps even more importantly, he recognized that he would only succeed if he could successfully compete economically with gaslighting.