Report by Paula Antolini
November 24, 2018, 7:22AM EDT
Photo: New Nativity display and tree in P.T.Barnum Square in Bethel, Connecticut moments after lighting, during the Bethel Winterfest 2018 on November 23rd.
PHOTOS/VIDEOS: Residents Endured Freezing Temperatures at the Bethel WinterFest 2018
The word for the day was the COLD. Single-digit temperatures greeted Bethel residents in the early morning hours on Friday, November 23, 2018, after record breaking low temperatures on Thanksgiving Day. It was 7 degrees at 6:53 a.m, and by the time the Bethel WinterFest 2018 began in town at 1:00 p.m. temperatures were only in the 20’s, making this one of the coldest holiday celebrations in years. The highest temperature reached 30 degrees by 2:53 p.m. but then started dropping again after that, into the low 20’s again by the time people were waiting for Santa’s arrival at P.T. Barnum Square at approximately 5:15 p.m.
The countdown to the tree and Nativity lighting was done by First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker. After the lighting of the tree and Nativity, people waited in turn to take pictures in front of the new Nativity that was now all beautifully lit for the season with a hanging lantern on top, with Baby Jesus in the manger. A brand new Nativity had been built and paid for this year by volunteers, lead by Tim Martin.
It wasn’t long after the lighting that Santa arrived. Due to the cold, this year Santa circled around the edge of the square in the Bethel Fire & EMS fire truck, but Santa did not exit there. With hardly a glimpse of Santa, families and children were directed to head over to the Bethel Municipal Center where they could visit Santa.
Earlier people did some holiday shopping in downtown Bethel on Black Friday, taking advantage of sales and viewing all the exciting new merchandise on display in shops on Greenwood Avenue and in P.T. Barnum Square. Shoppers enjoyed the beautifully decorated windows before entering stores and of course enjoyed the toasty warm interiors, getting a reprieve from the bitter cold outside.
There was a flurry of activity in the Toy Room store, in a new location across from the Bethel Public Library this year, which might have been the most popular place in town on this day. There were also crafts set up for children to do. Be sure to checkout the “Giving Tree” where you can choose to purchase a gift certificate or a toy for a boy or girl in need. All proceeds from the Giving Tree benefit Bethel Social Services. Thank you to owner Kimberly Ramsey for this thoughtful gift-giving activity.
Also many thanks to the scouts troops who braved the cold in many locations in town to provide delicious free soup to Bethel WinterFest 2018 attendees, to Troop 50044 for providing a log fire and ingredients to make chocolate marshmallow S’mores, to Wade’s Piano Service for the wonderful holiday music in the square throughout the event, and to BHS music teacher Ms. Karen Neville and members of the Bethel High School choir for singing Christmas songs in the evening, including a solo of Silent Night in German by BHS Senior Anne Habeck.
We’d like to wish our readers much love and happiness as the 2018 holiday season begins!
View videos and photos of the event below.
BHS CHOIR AND CROWD P.T. BARNUM SQUARE
HORSE AND CARRIAGE RIDE, GREENWOOD AVENUE
P.T. BARNUM SQUARE MUSIC
BHS CHOIR / HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING
BHS CHOIR / SILENT NIGHT / SOLO IN GERMAN BY BHS SENIOR ANNE HABECK