Bethany Beach to host month of holiday events

Visitors to Bethany Beach and residents alike will find during the holiday season that the Town has rolled out the red carpet and added a boardwalk Christmas tree this year to light the way for holiday revelers.

The festivities get under way on Saturday, Dec. 5, with the Holiday Happenings in Bethany Beach Town Hall, at the corner of Route 1 (Coastal Highway) and Garfield Parkway. Santa will host a party in town hall, posing for complimentary photos and, new this year, accepting letters from children. The party will be held at a new time, 1 to 3 p.m., noted Bethany Beach Entertainment Director Julie Malewski.

At 6 p.m., the centerpiece of the town’s holiday decorations, a 30-foot-tall tree, will be lighted, while the Lord Baltimore Children’s Chorus leads a musical celebration of the season.

The tree, dubbed a “Tree of Warmth” by the Town, has also been the center of a bit of angst driven by its new name and the apparent lack of understanding of its significance, which is that it is meant to encourage those attending holiday events to bring new or gently used hats, gloves and scarves or canned goods, which will be donated to area charities.

After numerous postings on social media decrying the name, Malewski addressed the misunderstanding on the town entertainment department’s Facebook page.

“We apologize that so many are offended by the term ‘Tree of Warmth,’” Malewski said. “Unfortunately, the term has been taken out of context. Certainly this tree is a Christmas tree, a tree for all to enjoy as they celebrate the holiday season. … There is no underlying conspiracy here. The tree will be beautifully lit and stand on the bandstand plaza as a symbol of the warmth of the season, the holiday, of Christmas.

“It is a sad reflection of our time that so many can take something so simple, benign and charitable and make it so dark and sinister during a season of joy and harmony,” Malewski said.

She emphasized that she hopes people of all faiths will see the tree as a gathering place.

“It’s all about the spirit of the season, regardless of what you practice,” she told the Coastal Point this week.

Holiday Happenings is now the beginning of a month of special activities in Bethany Beach. Up until Christmas, each Saturday in December will be a “Weekend Wonderland in Bethany.” Participating shops will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Dec. 5, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, with special activities during each day and caroling around the tree at 6 p.m.

Weekend Wonderland schedule:

Saturday, Dec. 5

1-3 p.m. Holiday Happenings at Town Hall

2 p.m. Story Time at Bethany Beach Books

3-6 p.m. Gift Wrapping Station at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites

3-6 p.m. Frozen Event: Meet Anna & Elsa at Tidepool Toys

6 p.m. Inaugural Lighting of the “Tree of Warmth” featuring the Lord Baltimore Children’s Chorus.

Saturday, Dec. 12

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brunch with Santa at 99 Sea Level

2 p.m. Story Time at Bethany Beach Books

3-6 p.m. Gift Wrapping Station at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites

3-5 p.m. Drop & Shop featuring “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”: Free movies for kids with certified child care at the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Hotel; sponsored by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce

6 p.m. Carols Around the Tree led by the Mariner’s Praise Band

Saturday, Dec. 19

1-3 p.m. Lunch with Santa at The Jetty

2 p.m. Story Time at Bethany Beach Books

3-6 p.m. Gift Wrapping Station at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites

3-4 p.m. Holiday Magic Show: A Dickens Parlour Theater performance at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites

6 p.m. Performance around the tree led by the Southern Delaware School of the Arts show choir, on the Bandstand