• Bethlehem's annual Christmas Star lighting rescheduled due to weather

    By: Dave Faherty


    BETHLEHEM, N.C. - A large star damaged by a tornado is returning to a small town in Alexander County, but the event has been rescheduled for Monday, Dec. 3 due to rainy weather.

    Hundreds of people, churches and businesses worked to bring back the 50-foot star to outside Mount Pisgah Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.

    The Christmas star, which was destroyed by an EF2 tornado last year, is a 40-year tradition in the community.

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    Thousands are expected to come for the lighting. 

    Since the summer, the community has been raising money to rebuild the landmark after the tornado, with winds in excess of 100 mph, tore through Catawba, Caldwell and Alexander counties. 

    The old star was bent in half by the powerful storm. 

     “It just folded it up. It damaged it severely,” said Mike Stone, the pastor of Mount Pisgah Lutheran Church. “In fact, it was dangerous to actually have it up.”

    Last year, there wasn’t a star shining in the Bethlehem community.

    Church member Bree Kirby said she grew up with the holiday tradition of seeing the Star of Bethlehem every year. 

     “It’s been around since I was a little girl. It’s important," Kirby said. “I remember coming with my mom and dad.”

    The fundraising goal of the Raise the Star Committee was $17,000.  

    There was such an outpouring from the community, the group raised $40,000.

    Organizers said the star and the efforts by the community are a reminder of what the season is all about.   

     “This is our way, as one of the Bethlehems in the United States, to say, ‘Hey, as you pass by, don’t forget about what the season is all about,’” church member Warren Hollar said.

    The remains of the old star were made into ornaments, which will be sold to help a local ministry in the area.

     The star lighting was rescheduled for Monday night due to weather. The night will begin with a dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the lighting will start at 7 p.m. 

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