2017 will feature the last city seal
The City of Bethlehem will unveil its very last Christmas City Seal this winter.
The annual fundraiser, which has collected donations for the city’s many Christmas activities for more than 50 years, has suffered diminished returns in a more technologically rich world, said Lynn Collins Cunningham on behalf of the chamber and Citizens Christmas City Committee.
Created in 1964 as a local arts contest to create stamps for Christmas cards, the sale of “seals” has earned more than a million dollars to help defray the costs of trees and lighting thought Bethlehem over the years.
“Unfortunately, year after year, the donations have decreased. The people who support this effort have, for the most part, been doing it since its inception. They are getting older and older and younger people don’t send Christmas cards this results in decreased contributions, while the costs keep going up and up,” Cunningham explained.
Sponsorship donations and other efforts have increased in the last decade, but still the seal program only barely broke even last year.
A big expansion of the tree lighting ceremony last year, which saw an estimated 3,000 people, was supported by the now three-year-old ornament and trellis program, which Cunningham said is a big success.
“The seal production costs and the mailing costs were significant compared to the revenue we were bringing in. Financially, it wasn’t working. Emotionally, it was a hard decision to say that this will be the last year,” she said, telling of donors from across the country for many years. She was once surprised to open a letter with a $20 check from Theresa Collins, her mother, not knowing she donated to the program every year. “It is sad to think that this will be the last year, but it’s time.”
But the future is in ornaments.
The Christmas City Trellis at Payrow Plaza is home to the personalized ornament chimes available each year. The chimes are hung up in public for the holidays and then given to the donors for their collections. There are large and small ornaments available for purchase, at $100 and $50.
Each ornament will be personalized with your name or the name of a loved one. There are larger corporate ornaments available for purchase, also. If there is interest in ordering an ornament please contact Lynn Cunningham at Lynnc@lehighvalleychamber.org or call 610-739-1510.