25th Annual Luminaria Night to Light Up Bethlehem's Neighborhoods on Dec. 10 | WDIY Local News
A well-known community-building event, hosted by a local nonprofit, turns 25 this weekend. WDIY’s Sarit Laschinsky has more.
New Bethany Ministries’ Luminaria Night will take place this Saturday, Dec. 10, marking a quarter-century of lighting up the streets of Bethlehem’s neighborhoods in the spirit of hope and caring for those less fortunate.
According to the organization’s website, Luminaria Night was started in the neighborhood west of Linden Street and North of Johnston Drive over two decades ago by three neighbors who wanted to recreate the tradition of connecting homes by candlelight.
The event, which is placed on a neutral date between other major December holidays like Hanukkah, the winter solstice and Christmas - was initially a fundraiser that benefited several charities including New Bethany, which eventually became the permanent affiliate of Luminaria Night in 2003.
New Bethany’s Executive Director Marc Rittle recently spoke about Luminaria Night, which he called “magical,” on WDIY’s A Closer Look.
“Four thousand homes light candles outside of their homes, on the street,” Rittle said, “and we do contiguous streets, like all the way up and down the street, all at once on the same night.
“And then people do walking tours and driving tours of the city to sort of just see the lights, and it really is a powerful thing.
“Our tagline is ‘to be the light in your neighbor’s darkest hour,’ and it is the theme that you don’t know who needs help, and it might be your literal neighbor — and sometimes it’s you. And it’s a way of reminding ourselves that were all are here to support each other.”
All funds raised during Luminaria Night will benefit New Bethany’s mission of supporting people experiencing poverty, hunger, and homelessness.
The organization said in 2021, over $148,000 was raised through kit purchases and donations. The event also reached its highest participation rate, which included 250 neighborhoods and over 92,400 candles being displayed across the Lehigh Valley.
(Original air-date: 12/8/22)