Historic Downtown Bethlehem is hosting the new “Gingerbread Games” and other events this holiday season to maintain the holiday spirit, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newly christened “Gingerbread Games” is a holiday-themed competition for Bethlehem families or anyone with a creative spark. For $35, residents receive a wooden gingerbread man that they can choose to decorate to their liking.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, these decorated gingerbreads will be on display in Downtown Bethlehem, and people can go online and vote for their favorite gingerbread man. The winner will be announced just after Christmas and will receive a $200 Historic Downtown Bethlehem gift certificate.
“It was a great opportunity for us to find another way that we can bring a craft into the home and put a little competition spin on it for a chance to win,” said Tammy Wendling, downtown Bethlehem associate manager and main coordinator for the games.
Wendling and the Downtown Bethlehem Association’s marketing committee collaborated with Northampton Community College’s Fab Lab, a woodworking and design studio.
“(Fab Lab is) such huge community supporters, so we wanted to see if they’d be interested in cutting out our gingerbread,” Wendling said.
At the start of the pandemic, the Fab Lab helped the local Bethlehem community by producing masks to keep everyone safe. Sean Brandle, director of the Fab Lab, said he was eager to help when he heard about the Gingerbread Games.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for Northampton Community College and the Fab Lab just to help the local community, and for a great cause,” Brandle said.
Brandle said he and his team designed the shape of the gingerbread men with their software and then cut out the templates for them. They produced 84 wooden gingerbread men for Bethlehem residents and families, he said.
In addition to the Gingerbread Games, many Downtown Bethlehem storefronts are decorated for the holiday season.
Connie Postupack, owner and designer of Brownstone Design, decorated two of the store’s windows. One of her windows features a different way for children to meet Santa during the pandemic.
The Downtown Bethlehem Association had Santa sitting inside the storefront window so that the children could take pictures with him from the outside, to ensure safety and social distancing guidelines. Postupack’s window was perfect for undertaking this feat.
“I don’t care if I sold $10,000 out of the store or even $10, it doesn’t matter, just the fact that the kids have a special memory in a year that has just been so incredibly hard on every one of them,” Postupack said.
Postupack said having seen children already interacting with Santa through her window, in addition to the mailbox to Santa right outside her store, she is excited about being able to spread a bit of holiday cheer in the Christmas City.
“There’s very little showing in my window that is for sale, but it was much more important to the kids, and in the end, I discovered the parents appreciated it just as much that we took the time and dressed that window for the children,” Postupack said.
With a little creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, the holiday spirit is still in the air in Bethlehem.