Your Local News | Allentown, Bethlehem & Easton
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Bethlehem News

Holidays getting a little brighter in Bethlehem thanks to new grant

Christmas Tree getting ready for lighting cereony.jpg
Olivia Richardson
The Christmas tree at Payrow Plaza is getting a new 15-foot star and thousands of eco-friendly LED lights this year.

BETHLEHEM, Pa – Bright lights and stars will guide residents and visitors to Bethlehem this holiday season as Payrow Plaza's decorations get a bit of a makeover

Citizens Christmas City Committee, which organizes the annual tree lighting, is gearing up for a new display this year thanks to a $50,000 grant.

  • The Citizens Christmas City Committee (CCCC) has received  a $50,000 from the Hotel Tax grant that’s bringing new lights and a 15 foot star to Bethlehem’s Payrow Plaza
  • On Nov. 14 volunteers for the CCCC hung ornaments that will hang in the plaza
  • The tree lighting ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. on Nov. 18 with Bethlehem’s Mayor J. William Reynolds lighting the new tree

Volunteers began hanging and preparing ornaments on a chilly sunny Monday morning for this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Nov. 18.

    Tammy Wendling, vice president of Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce said without the new grant, “We'd still have decorations up for Christmas, but this year will be a lot brighter.”

    A lot brighter indeed

    Thousands of eco-friendly LED lights will be installed in the plaza and visitors will be able to see a new interactive display piece thanks to the grant.

    The money came from a hotel tax grant that matched donors from the Bethlehem Parking Authority and Lehigh Valley Health Network, Wendling said.

    “Part of our grant for this year we’re installing a 15-foot-star that will illuminate the night of the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. We also have expanded décor down here,” Wendling said.

    Bethlehem tree -- ornaments and windchimes hung on the trellis of Payrow Plaza.jpeg
    Laurie Monteforte
    Partial installment of windchimes with ornaments that will hang at the Payrow Plaza for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

    A trellis that sits at Payrow Plaza will include wind chimes and metallic ornaments that have been engraved with donors' names. The ornaments were designed to look like windows that hold candles, a Moravian tradition seen around the Lehigh Valley. The ornaments will reflect all of the bright lights and the star on the tree and in the plaza, Wendling said.

    Spillman Farmer Architects built the trellis and hung the ornaments. Ornaments were designed by Alloy5 of Bethlehem.

    Local blogger and owner of Lehigh Valley With Love, George Wacker, is a Bethlehem resident and a volunteer with Citizens Christmas City Committee. He loves how Bethlehem is a Christmas City and he wanted to be a part of the creation that people from all over the world come to see.

    “During the Christmas tree lighting I bring my family. This is one of the best times of the year,” Wacker said.

    Wacker has been volunteering with the committee for about three years, and recommends other people get involved.

    “This is a committee that’s relatively unknown,” Wacker said. “In the last couple of years due to Tammy and others involved, people are becoming aware of it and there are spots. If you’re a resident and you want to help out I definitely encourage you to take a look at it and get involved.”

    Volunteer holding an ornament.jpeg
    Laurie Monteforte
    A volunteer holds the 2022 Christmas ornament to be hung on a windchime attached to a trellis

    Ornaments are still on sale at the chamber office at 74 W. Broad St., Suite 240. There are blank ornaments that can be purchased, though the chance to have them engraved has passed.

    Holiday events this week

    With temperatures dropping, be prepared for the cold as it’s looking to be in the mid-20s the night of the ceremony, Wendling said.

    “It's a great time, it’s nice and frigid. That’s what makes this amazing," Wendling said, "The chimes will add to that Christmas spirit.”

    The ceremony will take place at Nov. 18. Bethlehem Mayor J. William Reynolds will turn the Christmas tree lights on at a ceremony beginning at 5pm.

    There will be hot chocolate to help keep people warm, as well as treats, a chance to meet Santa, and the “Not-So-Silent-Night” Christmas Concert with performances byFreedom High School Marching Band, Swingtime Dolls, the Holmes Family Singers, Seth Witcher with Second Baptist Church Choir, and Cunningham & Associates.