Morning Call: Commentary: ArtsQuest CEO Kassie Hilgert: Bethlehem’s nonprofits and small businesses make Christmas in Christmas City magical
ith Thanksgiving and Black Friday behind us, it’s time to celebrate one of the most magical times of the year — Christmas in the Christmas City.
From its christening as “Bethlehem” on Christmas Eve 1741, to being named Christmas City USA in the 1930s, Bethlehem has a rich holiday heritage unparalleled in our nation. It’s one of the major reasons you often see the city listed as one of the top holiday destinations in the U.S. by publications like USA Today, Forbes and Reader’s Digest.
For almost a decade, ArtsQuest has been working with the major holiday partners in our city and region to create the official Christmas City Guide promoting events like the city’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Live Christmas Pageant and Peepsfest. Last year, we also launched an all-new website, ChristmasCity.org, to highlight the many programs and events for which Bethlehem is known. While our goal is to eventually make this a year-round website, complementing the marketing and promotional efforts of Discover Lehigh Valley and the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, our primary focus is drawing visitors from near and far to the city during the holiday season.
Flip through the guide or visit the website and you’ll see nearly 70 different events and attractions listed, the majority presented by nonprofits and community organizations. Together, it’s the efforts of these smaller, mission-driven groups — more than 20 in all — that come together to create an authentic experience that attracts tens of thousands to the city during the holiday season.