“On Christmas Eve, all might be calm at the Hotel Bethlehem, but not everything will be bright. The word ‘hotel’ on the iconic rooftop sign will go dark so that only the word ‘Bethlehem’ is illuminated in neon red from dusk Monday until sunrise Wednesday. The display revives a 1970s tradition meant to pay homage to the city’s birth.”
“’I can’t think of a better way to remind our proud residents and visitors of the extraordinary history associated with this site and to honor our community heritage,’ said Bruce Haines, managing partner of the Hotel Bethlehem. Haines said he was notified of the tradition to only light up the ‘Bethlehem’ portion of the sign by Debbie Helms, a hotel employee from 1972-1990. Helms, of Bethlehem, said the memory just popped into her head recently when she was walking to choir practice at the Central Moravian Church. ‘By turning off the ‘hotel’ part of the sign, we were transforming it from being an advertisement to showing the location: This is Bethlehem, a place to enjoy the holidays,’ she said. Bethlehem, she said, has so many beloved holiday sights — single candles in the windows and the Moravian Star. The sign, she said, was another special one that lost traction over the years. She said it likely started in the mid-1970s under Bethlehem Steel, which had taken control of the hotel in 1962 and sold it in 1984. She doesn’t remember the tradition continuing in the 1980s.”
Gadfly thinks this is absolutely wonderful! How about you?
So wonderful that he hustled to the archives (those he could find open) to try to determine when the tradition started.
According to the December 21, 1969, Morning Call picture below, the practice was older than Debbie even thought.
A tradition worth re-newing!
If you see Debbie or Bruce over the holidays, give them a high-five.