DELMAR — A bear from the Arctic is the new face of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, debuting at First Night, and his name is Hamlet.
The chamber unveiled the new bear’s name in a ceremony held Monday, Dec. 19. His name was suggested by Selkirk resident Alyssa Bercharlie and selected out of a pool of choices by the chamber staff members. They all agreed with Bercharlie that because Bethlehem is made up of hamlets, Hamlet was a fitting name for the polar bear mascot.
As a part of the voting process, the Chamber staff deliberated on more than 30 suggestions that were made by the public as a part of an open contest. The names varied in their meanings, with some names containing a seasonal flair. Other names were tributes to family members. Several suggestions reflected the rich history of the area and notable landmarks.
Terri Egan, president of the Chamber, described the contest as having “run the gambit about what types of names have come in.” She praised the voters and their suggestions, adding that, “The response has been great.”
The idea for a mascot started when the Chamber began preparations for First Night. The Chamber works closely with the Town of Bethlehem, Delmar Marketplace, and other local organizations and businesses to coordinate for First Night.
The Chamber decided to plan their own addition to the festivities among the fireworks, ice sculpture, hot chocolate, and traveling musicians that will be present at First Night.
“We were brainstorming some other ideas that might be some simple family fun to get people interested in First Night,” said Egan.
She added, “We thought, ‘Well, what if we had a character there similar to what Disney does?’ It’s just a little bit of fun for a parent to be able to get a picture taken with their children who may be attending First Night.”
After researching various costumes, they came across an inflatable polar bear costume, complete with a cherry-red hat. “Having it be a polar bear at First Night in the winter, it just seemed to come together,” said Egan, saying that it “popped out” at them as the “logical” choice.
The idea further blossomed when a staff member suggested that they name the new mascot. This idea led to the public contest that earned Hamlet his new name.
Hamlet will make his debut at the First Night celebration in Delmar on December 31st, ready for photo opportunities for the whole family.
“We’ll see how he does at First Night,” Egan teased, regarding Hamlet’s future appearances at events in the town. “I’m guessing we will be creative and find ways to leverage our mascot going forward.”