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From Lisa – O Little Town of Bethlehem / Christmas City / Festival City!

December 19, 2012


This year marks 75 years since Bethlehem christened itself the Christmas City.  An anniversary I was reminded of many times at Downtown Bethlehem Association meetings, on the various Bethlehem-focused websites, and now hear nightly at Touchstone’s Christmas City Follies (though in Follies it’s argued that we should really be the “festival city” instead – who’s with us?)

Most of my pre-holiday evenings and weekends are spent with Follies, in late November designing costumes and props, then in December running the box office and front of house for each show.  Follies runs all through December, so I rarely get to partake in all the Christmas City has to offer this time of year.  But I’m grateful it’s here, and I do love talking about it!

At intermission during the second week of the run, a couple had come to town to visit and found their way to Follies, which happened to feature Mayor Callahan as our Special Guest that night.  They were so pleased to be in Bethlehem and wanted the inside scoop on the places they thought about eating, shopping, or visiting while in town. I was happy to be able to tell them that the family-owned Brew Works had a great variety of fresh brewed beers and tasty dishes with a focus on local farmers and faire, then a 10 minute walk down Main St. (or longer if you stop in all the shops) they’d reach Hotel Bethlehem, a truly historic and beautiful building, which has a fantastic brunch on Sundays, then right across the street they can hit up the endless Moravian Book Shop they were looking for and swing back up the other side of Main St. for more one-of-a-kind shopping.  And if they wanted more shopping and dining they should try Broad St. or come back over to the South Side.  I spent nearly the whole intermission with this couple who were now smitten with Bethlehem – having seen the Mayor perform and gotten some insider Bethlehem info.

There’s a synergy here; perhaps it began 75 years ago with the proclamation of Christmas City.  However, it began, it’s palpable – out-of-towners sense it – there’s a distinct quality to our restaurants, shops and downtowns.  You won’t find the same old things on our Main Streets and you’ll meet business owners and locals who love their city and are happy to tell you about their favorite places.  I’m thrilled that for the last 15+ years Christmas City Follies found a home in the middle of the holiday season in the Christmas City.

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