Bethlehem Press

Monday, October 21, 2019

City to revamp Christmas display

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 by Stephen Althouse Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Bethlehem residents made their wish lists and checked them twice when contemplating how to make the Christmas City’s annual display just a better gift.

They had a chance to share their opinions during a public presentation April 2 with David Weiner, principal with New York-based David Weiner Design.

Since 1937, Bethlehem has marketed itself as “Christmas City USA” and the city is looking to revamp the display, paying Weiner and his company to come up with a more festive celebration to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

Weiner offered photos and videos of other displays across the world, from Regent Street in London, which the designer described as “quite beautiful, to Nice, France, which he called “impressive.”

After this, the designer showed pictures of “successful Christmas trees,” which included 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York and Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Weiner followed this up by sharing examples of “projection mapping,” which utilizes specialized computerized projection technology used to turn irregularly shaped objects into a display surface for projection. Weiner also provided examples of projection mapping’s cousin, known as “video mapping,” which also uses specialized software to warp and mask a projected image that transcends ordinary video projection.

“What’s great about these techniques are that they tell a series of stories and are continually transforming the building,” said Weiner. He showed examples of the technique from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France. The designer also favored the use of the city’s three bridges over the Lehigh River in any new concept.

The New York designer also said he enjoyed the city’s white lights along Main Street, but was less than enamored with the lights on the trees, suggesting instead to decorate lampposts or even existing architecture.

Weiner then said he wanted to “start a conversation” about Bethlehem’s current Christmas display from those in attendance. The designer divided a large sheet of paper and placed the words “strengths” and “weaknesses” at the top of two separate columns.

In the strengths column, attendees used words such as “traditions,” “bright lights,” “participation,” “candlelight,” “elegance” and the “river” as positives. The negative side of the ledger included thoughts that the Christmas tree by city hall is “awful.” Other derogatory statements were that the current display was “tired” “small,” “haphazard,” “inconsistent” and contained “too many white lights.” Another person said she was annoyed by the “piped in music” although she was not opposed to music.

Weiner will use the feedback to develop a concept for the city, which is scheduled to be presented during May, with a final plan – including how much their plans will cost Bethlehem –set for the end of June.