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Lights, camera, Bethlehem!: Hallmark Channel salutes city as a Hallmark Holiday Hometown

Hallmark Santa and Mayor.jpg
Phil Gianficaro
Hallmark Channel dispatched Santa Claus to Bethlehem to present a plaque for the city's participation with Hallmark's Christmas Cam last holiday season. Santa presented the plaque to Bethlehem Mayor J. William Reynolds.

  • The City of Bethlehem was recognized by Hallmark Channel for the city's participation with Christmas Cam last holiday season
  • Santa Claus presented Mayor J. William Reynolds with a plaque
  • A camera on a pole on Main Street livestreamed activity during the holiday season.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Santa handing out presents is nothing out of the ordinary.

Now, had the jolly ol’ Christmas icon been seen clutching an Easter basket and handing out colorful eggs, well, that would be news.

But Santa doling out gifts? That’s his gig — his hallmark, if you will.

But in September on a 70-degree day?

Yet there was Santa on Wednesday morning outside the Historic Bethlehem Visitors Center on Main Street bestowing special gifts to Mayor J. William Reynolds in celebration of the Christmas City’s partnership with the Hallmark Channel Christmas Cam.

Among the gifts was a mahogany engraved plaque that reads: Hallmark Channel Holiday Hometown — Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

“I’m so honored to receive this plaque on behalf of the City of Bethlehem,” Reynolds said. “With that live stream, the country and the world was able to see Bethlehem during the holiday season. Some then visited Bethlehem and invested in the city.”

Last holiday season, Hallmarkchannel.com featured Bethlehem on a live streaming Christmas Cam. A camera was affixed to a tall yellow pole near Main and Walnut streets. The camera captured images of historic Main Street and livestreamed them to the Hallmark Channel website from late November to late December.

“With that live stream, the country and the world was able to see Bethlehem during the holiday season."
J. William Reynolds, Bethlehem mayor

Hallmark selected five communities it believed would evoke a real-life essence of the festive communities featured in Hallmark holiday movies. And also to bring a one-of-a-kind experience to Hallmark Channel’s website for people everywhere looking to relax, indulge and be inspired to get into the holiday spirit.

Other cities that were chosen are St. Petersburg, Fla., St. Paul, Minn., Corning, N.Y., and Harbor Springs, Mich.

Hallmark approached Bethlehem officials in October, and they quickly engaged the Citizens’ Christmas City Committee, part of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce. Production staff from Hallmark mailed a camera, and the two groups worked together to get it set up and streaming.

Angela Stein, the director of the Mayor’s Initiatives for Bethlehem, said the genesis of the city’s relationship with Hallmark Channel has connections to Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.

“I’d been trying to get Hallmark to do a movie about Bethlehem for years when I was with the chamber of commerce,” Stein said. “Two years ago, Oprah and Martha found out about it and wrote stories about it on their blogs. Hallmark found out about the blogs and contacted us about the Christmas Cam.”

Hallmark Channel has not yet announced if it will be doing Christmas Cam this holiday season.

“But if they do, we’d be more than happy to participate again, to continue showing the whole world the magic of The Christmas City,” said Tammy Wendling, senior vice president of Bethlehem Initiatives for the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We’d love for people to see our beautiful Main Street during the holiday.”

Hallmark Santa