Archive for category Bethlehem

Dinosaur stilt-walkers put on ‘Saurus’ at Musikfest 2014 final weekend

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Musikfest is a great place for people watching. This weekend, those people include stilt walkers outfitted in 18-foot tall dinosaur costumes.

Musikfest is a great place for people watching.

This weekend, those people include stilt-walkers outfitted in 18-foot-tall dinosaur-like costumes.

“Saurus” is the latest of Musikfest’s spectacle acts. The Bethlehem festival has been working to add more of them in recent years, and “Saurus” is expected to be among its best, said Patrick Brogan, senior vice president of programming for ArtsQuest, Musikfest’s parent company.

“I think they’re going to be the big thing on the second weekend that everyone is talking about,” he said.

“Saurus” is a costumed stilt show put on by Netherlands-based street theater group Close Act Theatre. Brogan discovered the show at last August’s Toronto Buskerfest and worked for almost a year to bring them to Bethlehem.

“This is so dynamic and large-scale and over the top I said we have to see if we can do this in Bethlehem,” Brogan said.

Musikfest has long had a regular rotation of buskers on Main Street but the spectacle acts are new in the past few years. Indie rock marching band March Fourth performed both in 2011 and 2012 while this year’s festival also hosted unique marching band Mucca Pazza and Polynesian dance shows.

In addition to “Saurus,” the last weekend of Musikfest this year also includes Allentown-based aerial troupe Aerial Minds at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks and Dance Now dancers at SteelStacks’ Town Square.

“We’re quite stacked with the street performances and spectacle performances this weekend,” Brogan said. “It’s fun to bring all these artists from all over the world to Bethlehem.”

Close Act Theatre has performed in Brazil, Japan and South Africa but this weekend is only its third-ever performance in the United States, troupe member Eefje de Groot said. The troupe has twice performed at the Detroit Festival of Arts.

“America — we have a lot left to conquer,” she said. “It’s lovely to be here.”

The troupe is made up of dancers, drummers, singers and actors who have all learned to walk on stilts, an element that’s involved in all the troupe’s shows, de Groot said. De Groot and her two fellow performers operate 3-foot stilts beneath the dinosaur costumes.

The troupe also performs on stilts as insects, butterflies and drummers but only the dinosaur costumes were shipped to the United States. The troupe has its own team of designers who brainstorm and sew all the costumes, de Groot said.

“I think they wanted something big and they started drawing and I think it became a dinosaur,” she said.

The performances are advertised to be between Festplatz and Plaza Tropical, which confused many in attendance waiting for the 4 p.m. performance today. In actuality, the troupe starts off at the Main Street S-curve outside Moravian College’s Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus and walks either up to Main Street or down between Festplatz and Plaza Tropical.

Whitehall Township resident Jean Krantz was able to catch some of the performance and said she was impressed.

“It’s really neat,” she said. “To walk on those things … and good weather — what more could you ask for?”

The troupe performs at 4, 6 and 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday. Full daily schedules are posted at

Violent crime around Bethlehem in August (map)

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

We've provided you a breakdown of the rash of violent crimes reported within the city's limits so far this month.

August is off to a violent start in Bethlehem.

As the city celebrates Musikfest, which is usually only plagued by disorderly conduct and public drunkenness arrests, police have been wrestling with an unusual number of violent crimes. 

Hover over or click the icons on the map to learn more about the incidents. Find a quick roundup of what happened, when and where below the map.

View Violent crime in Bethlehem August 2014 in a larger map

Shooting on Aug. 1: A single shot was fired at 10:40 p.m. at West Raspberry and Main Street, a block from Musikfest and only about 20 minutes before festivities wrapped up for the night. No one was hurt and no one has been charged. 

Brass knuckles attack on Aug. 2: A 17-year-old who believed he was “disrespected” by a 34-year-old man attacked the victim at 10:10 p.m. in the 400 block of Main Street while armed with a pair of brass knuckles. The juvenile male is being charged with aggravated assault and possession of a prohibitive weapon.

Two robberies on Aug. 3 and 4: A man was robbed at 11:45 p.m. in the 400 block of Third Avenue by two men wearing hooded sweatshirts. One was carrying a firearm, according to police. Another robbery with a near-identical description was reported at 12:04 a.m. by two teenagers. Police say the robberies appear to be related.

Bank robbery Aug. 5: Police caught Aloysuis E. Mills, 31, of Bethlehem, hours after he allegedly robbed the Wells Fargo bank at 52 W. Broad St. in the city. Mills didn’t show a weapon, but implied he had one during the hold-up, police said.

Double shooting Aug. 5: Two men were wounded during a chaotic scene three blocks from where Musikfest was letting out at 11 p.m. Authorities detained several people near where the shots rang out at West Garrison and Guetter streets, but all were released after questioning. No arrests have been made and the victims are expected to survive.

Knifepoint robbery Aug. 6: A man reported being robbed in the 300 block of Broadway while he was seated in his vehicle. The perpetrator allegedly stuck a knife to the man’s throat through an open window.

South Side Bethlehem shooting Aug. 7: A Lehigh County man was wounded in the torso as he exited the Happy Tap Bar Grille and Pub, 601 E. Fourth St. Police identified the shooter as Manuel Collazo, 30, of Cleveland, Ohio. Collazo is wanted and considered armed and dangerous, police report.

We’ll update the crime map as the month goes on. 

In the meantime, Bethlehem businesses in the heart of the festival say they aren’t experiencing anything they would consider out of the ordinary

But Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez and police Chief Mark DiLuzio say they’ve heard from other merchants who do have concerns. DiLuzio said the city will be evaluating ways to better police the city during the busy period of the festival. 

Kassie Hilgret, ArtsQuest’s senior vice president for marketing and advancement, said Tuesday no changes would be coming to Musikfest. She pointed out that most of the violent crimes — including all of the shootings — happened off festival grounds. Hilgret said most people understand that these sort of crimes could happen anywhere and aren’t indicative of the festival.

The mayor said more manpower will be deployed to the north side of the city in the wake of the crimes reported there in the last week. Donchez emphasized that the festival — and the city he’s been elected to lead — remains safe.

Musikfest 2014: The Avett Brothers revelry amplified by adoring fans – REVIEW

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The seven-person band filled the Musikfest's main stage with bursting energy tonight moving seamlessly between joyous romps and intimate ballads.

There were seven bodies on the Musikfest‘s Sands Steel Stage tonight, but that’s only because the rest of the band — standing in front of the hundreds of chairs before them — couldn’t fit.

The Avett Brothers, a group with humble beginnings in Concord, N.C., have won themselves a loyal following and the bursting energy behind every song makes it easy to see why. All that passion was reflected right back at them from the adoring fans who swayed, clapped, stomped and shouted with all they had.

The actual brothers Avett — Scott, 38, and Seth, 30 — weren’t chatty. They were all business.

But that didn’t bother the audience, which seemed plugged into some intimate line straight to the band, whose 14-year history has provided plenty of access points for listeners. The band has a strong and storied catalog, with several live albums. It became clear early on just why that is — no studio can capture what happens on stage when this group is in their groove.

In dramatic piecemeal fashion, the band first gathered on stage one by one for “Satan Pulls The Strings” — an appropriate country romp that brought the crowd to its feet with the first stroke of Joe Kwon’s cello.

The crowd couldn’t resist singing along to the catchy “Another is Waiting” from the group’s latest album “The Magpie and the Dandelion,” and the force of their performance built steadily from there, pulled along steadily by the talents of bassist Bob Crawford.

While Seth Avett played guitar with a gusto that cost him a few broken strings, his older brother’s animation was contagious. Scott Avett crossed the stage several times during “Live and Die” — another fan favorite — and appeared ready to leap off the stage in a fit of crazed excitement were his banjo not tethered to an amp. His playful mannerisms and sometimes goofy vigor demanded audience attention.

“I need your help,” he said during a buildup in “Salina” that required the clapping hands of the hundreds before him. “You have no idea how much I need your help.”

The brothers, like many sibling musicians, have an unmistakable way of playing off one another. There’s no ferocious competition — just a upping of the ante on both sides. While Seth Avett, with his wild long hair, had no trouble matching his brother in intensity, he was usually the star of slowing things down. He unveiled a new song, confessing his desire to be loved by his audience — a feat he had clearly accomplished judging by the screams of approval when he sang, “Just to have the back rows, say honey, you’re worth the price of a ticket.”

When Seth Avett finished “The Spell of Ambition,” it was his big brother who thanked the audience for listening.

When Scott Avett made his way to the piano on stage — disguised as a love letter to the band with homemade signs declaring “Avett Nation,” — the group dove into “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promises” to roars of approval. The epic rendition of the song felt like a finale and won over any last stalwarts in the crowd who were holding off joining the celebration.

“If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected,” Scott Avett sang as the audience shouted passionately back at him. “Decide what to be and go be it.”

Lovers sneaked kisses during “Laundry Room” and buddies hoisted glowing Musikfest mugs in salute during the drinking ode “Down With The Shine.”

The Avett Brothers moved seamlessly between the joyous revelry of “The Traveling Song” and the intimate sweetness of “Father’s First Spring.”

It’s that swing in emotions and temper that have helped the Avett Brothers seize and secure the hearts of their fans — willing participants in every performance.

Lehigh County man exits South Bethlehem bar and is shot by man outside, police say

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The 24-year-old victim is stable at St. Luke's University Hospital in Fountain Hill, police say.

Watch video

A 24-year-old Lehigh County man early this morning left a South Bethlehem bar and quickly encountered another man who pulled out a handgun and shot him, city police report in a news release.

Police didn’t say if the men exchanged words or if they knew each other. No one is in custody.

The victim was wounded in the torso just after 12:30 near East Fourth and Pierce streets and was chased by the gunman, police said.

He got to Second Street and Founder’s Way, where police found him and took him for treatment to St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill, the news release says.

The man, who police did not name, was stable this morning in the hospital, although police did not provide a condition. Police Chief Mark DiLuzio said earlier today the the wound was not life-threatening.

Police were called at 12:42 to the area outside the Happy Tap Bar at 601 E. Fourth St., the news release says. A bar employee early this morning confirmed the shooting but said it took place outside.

City detectives are investigating the shooting, at least the third in the city since Friday.

A Lehigh University graduate student, who asked not to be named, said he heard what he thought was fireworks late Wednesday night or early this morning. He didn’t think to even peek out his window, he said, assuming it was just another element of nearby Musikfest.

“A gunshot? Oh my gosh,” the student said when told of the violence. “I thought maybe it had something to do with the music festival. There was a big crowd, but I assumed it was just young people yelling. Wow.”

The victim was found near the entrance to Steelstacks, the South Side home to Musikfest.

A handful of churches and small storefronts dot the closely packed homes in the Four Blocks International neighborhood. A few other residents who answered their doors this morning said they heard nothing overnight and seemed surprised about the news of a shooting. 

Anyone with information on the crime or the shooter is asked to call the city 911 center at 610-865-7187 or Detective Brad Jones at 610-865-7146. Callers can remain anonymous, police said.

Your comments: Musikfest 2014 still fun, despite safety fears raised by a ‘few dungheads’

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

What do you think of the spate of crime at and near Musikfest this year?

A spate of crime at and near Musikfest since opening night Friday, including Tuesday night’s shooting that wounded two, is generating concern, anger and some indifference among those commenting on

Here is a look at what some readers are saying:

Pax tibi weighs in:
I see this shooting as a real issue for Musikfest. First and foremost I love to attend the festival. If there are any stats for where most of the trouble is I would think the percentage is on Main Street. Yes this shooting didn’t happen on Main Street it did happen in the surrounding blocks where most of us park and walk to our cars with our families. These idiots don’t have no value for anyone’s life and will just shoot blindly in any direction. The violence that I see is growing. It no longer is someone who gets drunk and starts a scuffle. We are now hearing about stabbings and now shooting in the area. This is not worth taking a chance to try and enjoy a night out if you need to worry about these idiots feeling brave with their guns and letting rounds fire off. It is only a matter of time before this situation will happen on the actual festival grounds. For myself and my family, I think I will just sit this one out. It is a shame for an event I use to look forward to.

Some are floating ideas on how to improve safety:

ronmania says:
I enjoy Musikfest. Was a volunteer in the late 80′s thru early 90′s. But now changes need to be made. 1. Close the festival at 9 PM ( most families have left by then anyhow). 2. Or maybe just close Main St, at 9PM. 3.  Force Artsquest to provide private security (especially after 7 PM.) Most public musical events have private security. 4. Yes more police are needed, as long as Artsquest is footing the bill. 5. Break up teenage groups of more than 12. Just get them moving along. Lets get the fest back to the fun event it used to be !!

Others seem indifferent to the violence and say the festival is as fun as ever.

insertwittycomment believes:
It’s safe……North and South sides were both awesome last night…..the group on stage (Wild Child at Americaplatz) was great.

A bad element among the crowds, and what to do about it, is also drawing attention.

FrankFurillo suggests:
There is no way to prevent every crime at an event like this, but  don’t let the few dungheads ruin it for everyone.  Remember these are just headlines.  Thousands visit the fest everyday and we read about 5-10 every year and it should be shut down?  They do need to start enforcing the laws more aggressively though.  Like charging the guy with slapping the horse with disorderly conduct.  That is BS, that should have been assault on an officer.  The Pa Crimes Code treats police animals just like human officers.  A few well placed arrests send the message we don’t tolerate your crap.  Maybe they need to start what Philadelphia did by putting a magistrate right there.

van243 says:
I thank the police for a quick response. What’s wrong with people these days? Why do they have to carry a gun or brass knuckles to a concert? The person that slapped the horse twice–What happened to him? If you raised the fines for parking etc for Musikfest how about raising the stay in jail, bail and fines for these outrageous behaviors.

What do you think? Add your thoughts in the comment section below.

Bethlehem man, 71, stood in doorway naked, police report

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

A neighbor notified police when she saw the man out her window on June 1, according to court documents.

A Bethlehem senior citizen is accused of standing naked in his doorway and exposing himself to a neighbor, according to court documents.

Police say David C. Tiemann, 71, of the first block of East Ettwein Street, was touching himself in the doorway about 4:50p.m. June 1.

The neighbor happened to see Tiemann when she looked out a window, police report. The side doorway where Tiemann was standing is visible to others passing by, according to court records.

Tiemann was arraigned this week before District Judge Roy Manwaring on charges of indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. No bail was set in the case because the charges were summonses.

Musikfest: Bethlehem shooting was off grounds, festival still safe

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

A top Musikfest official says nothing will be changed at the festival in light of a shooting Tuesday night three blocks from the festival that injured two men.

A top Musikfest official says nothing will be changed at the festival in light of a shooting Tuesday night three blocks from the festival that injured two men.

Kassie Hilgert, ArtsQuest’s senior vice president for marketing and advancement, said Musikfest officials don’t consider the shooting to be related to the festival and operations will continue as normal for the remaining five days. ArtsQuest is Musikfest’s parent company.

“I think most people understand it happened off grounds and it could happen anywhere,” said Hilgert, who has been tapped to become ArtsQuest’s president in January. “It’s a very safe city and a very safe area and we don’t see it any different.”

Hilgert complimented the Bethlehem Police Department on its quick response to the shooting and said festival officials work closely with the police to ensure safety. Musikfest staff and volunteers are trained to report any suspicious looking activity to police, she said.

Kassie Hilgert Kassie Hilgert.jpgView full sizeKassie Hilgert 

“Safety is always our No. 1 priority — one incident is one too many,” Hilgert said.

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez said earlier today that he wants to evaluate if anything should be changed with the festival considering the repeated problems in the Main Street area. Hilgert said she doesn’t see a need to consider changes to the area because of the shooting.

“It wasn’t on Main Street — I don’t tie the one next to the other,” she said.

Has violent crime at or near Musikfest grounds made you reconsider going? (poll)

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Crimes have been a daily occurrence on or near the festival's grounds north of the Lehigh River.

Since the start of Musikfest, Center City Bethlehem has seen two shootings, one with two people wounded, in addition to a stabbing, brass-knuckle beatingauto theft and a bank robbery.

The neighborhood is home to the annual festival’s grounds north of the Lehigh River, and festival-goers have been mixed up in some of the crime: the beating took place at the festival, the alleged auto thief is said to have targeted Musikfest for the crime and Tuesday night’s shooting took place blocks away as patrons were leaving.

Bethlehem’s police chief voiced confidence today in his department’s ability to police the grounds and surrounding community. Mayor Bob Donchez, meanwhile, said more police manpower will be deployed on Musikfest’s north side.

Has violent crime at or near Musikfest grounds made you reconsider going? Weigh in with our poll.

Bethlehem police presence strong, chief says as detainees released in Musikfest shooting that hurt two

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

"There are young people out there who believe drugs, money and guns are glamorous," said police Chief Mark DiLuzio. "It's a policing challenge for these events, but this kind of thing is also due to a breakdown of certain social norms."

Bethlehem’s top cop maintained confidence today in his department’s abilities to police the grounds within and outside of Musikfest in the wake of Tuesday’s late night shooting three blocks from where the festival was emptying.

The handful of people police were questioning have since been released, Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio said. Officers were headed to disperse a large, unruly crowd at West Garrison and Guetter streets when shots were fired at about 11 p.m., DiLuzio said.

“Officers were already doing proactive policing there,” the chief said.

One man was found bleeding from a gunshot wound to his hip in a gas station parking lot at Union Boulevard and Main Street while another, wounded in the groin, was taken by private vehicle to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Muhlenberg. The first victim was treated at the scene and transported to St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill, authorities say.

Police are not releasing the names of the victims and DiLuzio declined to comment on their level of cooperation. Both are in good condition at the hospitals, he said.

DiLuzio said police are not sure how many in the crowd were armed and how many fired shots. Six to 10 people were taken in for questioning and all have since been released, DiLuzio said.

Bullet casings covered the ground at West Garrison and Masslich streets where police scoured the area for evidence well into early Wednesday morning.

DiLuzio said police are looking for any surveillance that might give them more of a clue of how the violence unfolded and are hoping eyewitnesses will tell investigators what they know.

The chief said it looked doubtful, but authorities were investigating whether the incident was related to gang activity.

“We’re looking into all those angles,” he said. “All of those angles are normally part of an investigation. We would not be doing our jobs if it wasn’t. When you have large groups involved like this, we’re definitely going to look into whether it was gang-related.”

‘Someone emptied their gun real fast’

Anthony Bass was enjoying a pizza outdoors on Main Street, flashing Musikfest mug in hand, when cracks of gunfire ripped through the air.

“Honestly, I thought it was fireworks and so did everyone else,” he said. 

Police were lining up for the daily “push” north on Main Street to usher out the festival crowd when a “shots fired” call came over their radios. Police cars and motorcycles, lights flashing and sirens wailing, sped away from the lineup to respond.

Bass said he and others barely had time to register what happened when police arrived and “swarmed” the area. Bass said he saw three men run north on Main Street before police caught up to them. Others who headed in the opposite direction were also met by police, he said.

“Immediately there were police. They were arresting people left and right,” Bass said. “It all happened pretty fast.”

Jeff Kemmerer and friends sitting on a porch overlooking Main Street at the Step By Step Alcohol Rehabilitation Center heard the commotion and were in shock. Kemmerer said he heard about five “pows” before a brief pause and another several shots.

“It sounded as if someone emptied their gun real fast,” he said.

Police blocked off West Garrison Street with crime tape, turning away pedestians, many with festival mugs in hand, who said they were headed that way to get home.

Toni Williams, another resident at the Main Street home, said she was upset by the violence in the last few days. Both Williams and Kemmerer said they heard the single gunshot fired Friday night in the area of West Raspberry Street.

“We’re used to the people, we’re not used to these shootings,” Williams said. “People were running everywhere. People were running because they were scared.”

Bass said he still feels Musikfest is a safe place to enjoy live music, friends and food, but Joe Negri, who joined Williams and Kemmerer on the Main Street porch, felt differently. He shook his head when asked about the recent violence.

“I’ve never seen Musikfest this bad,” Negri said. “Never.”

Thuggish culture creates policing challenge

Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzioView full sizeBethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio 

DiLuzio said the 10-day festival is protected not just by Bethlehem police but by officers with the FBI, Northampton County Emergency Management Services, the Pennsylvania State Police Mounted Unit and the Lancaster Mounted Unit. It’s a manpower-intensive event every year, DiLuzio said.

But police presence has increasingly little effect on certain thuggish individuals, the chief said. 

“There are young people out there who believe drugs, money and guns are glamorous,” DiLuzio said. “It’s a policing challenge for these events, but this kind of thing is also due to a breakdown of certain social norms.”

DiLuzio said he spoke to Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli about the recent violence.

Morganelli said plans to redeploy police to areas where younger people congregate will hopefully stem some of the problems. The district attorney insists Musikfest remains a safe event and plans on attending himself in the next two days.

The real worry, Morganelli said, is if an innocent bystander is hurt during a confrontation.

“I’m not overly concerned about it, but I’m not going to let it go,” the district attorney said.

Mayor Robert Donchez emphasized today that the shooting would not go “unanswered” and later said police resources would be put on the festival’s north side. And DiLuzio said police are determined to make arrests in the case.

“We already have a very heavy police presence out there,” the chief said. “And that’s going to continue.”

Anyone with information about Tuesday’s shooting is urged to contact Bethlehem police detectives at 610-865-7187. Tips can be made anonymously.

Caregiver gets prison for assaulting former patient’s elderly widow in Bethlehem

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Authorities say she doused the 77-year-old victim with pepper spray and hit her over the head with a potted plant and two vases.

An ex-caregiver who violently assaulted and robbed the elderly widow of one of her former patients will spend up to two decades behind bars.

Lastasha Serrano, who was found guilty of multiple robbery and assault charges after a trial in May, was sentenced today to nine to 20 years in Pennsylvania State Prison.

The 25-year-old Serrano visited the Bethlehem apartment of 77-year-old Margaret Weber on Sept. 28 and asked to use the phone, claiming her car broke down while she was looking for her sick aunt’s home.

After using the phone, Serrano doused Weber with pepper spray, hit her over the head with a potted plant, then broke two vases over her head before stealing cash and jewelry, police said.

“This was a brutal attack against an elderly victim that the defendant chose because she knew what she would be running into,” said Jay Jenkins, Lehigh County chief deputy district attorney.

“She could’ve gone to another house, but she went there because she knew she was going to run into an elderly person,” Jenkins said.

Serrano, who also goes by the name Latasha, apologized to the victim during her sentencing today before Judge Robert Steinberg, according to her public defender, Karen Schular. Several family members also testified on her behalf.

Serrano today also pleaded guilty to theft charges stemming from a separate Bethlehem home robbery, this time against one of Serrano’s own former patients, Jenkins said.

In that case, Serrano visited the woman’s house, was invited in for a chat, then asked to use the bathroom, but instead stole jewelry from the victim’s bedroom, Jenkins said.

Serrano was originally expected to face trial starting Monday on those charges, but she instead pleaded guilty the same time as her sentencing today, he said.

Steinberg sentenced Serrano to nine to 36 months in prison for those charges, but that time will run simultaneously with the nine-to-20-year sentence for the assault case, Jenkins said.

Weber needed 12 staples due to her injuries — seven on her head and five for a cut behind her ear — that left blood splatters and blood around her apartment.

During the trial in May, Weber recalled the fear she experienced during the assault, saying she tried to dial 911 from a house phone, but that Serrano saw it and ripped it “right off the wall.”

“I still kept fighting because I was fighting for my life,” Weber said.

After attacking Weber, Serrano dragged her into the bedroom and demanded $2,000 in cash, claiming she owed someone money, police said. Serrano left the apartment with $1,286 in cash and about $2,000 in jewelry.

Contact Allentown reporter Colin McEvoy at 484-894-2549 or

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