Now You Can Hold a Candle to Headhouse Square


Holiday season habitués in Philadelphia are no doubt familiar with the annual South Street Headhouse District’s Winter Wonderland tree lighting ceremony and visit from the North Pole’s jolliest resident.

But this year, there will be a new addition to the Christmas-y festivities being held on Dec. 6: a menorah lighting.

For the first time, the annual wintery occurrence will become “a little bit more inclusive” and celebrate the first night of Chanukah as part of its schedule of events, said the district’s assistant director, Bill Arrowood.

The first night of the holiday fell on a “calendar sweet spot” as far as planning for the Winter Wonderland went, so it made sense to add in a celebration of the Festival of Lights, Arrowood elaborated.

“Our tree lighting, which is our annual event, happened to fall on the first night of Chanukah, so it made sense that this would be a good time to start this tradition,” Arrowood explained, adding he is “excited” to be able to begin the lighting this year.

He is planning for the menorah lighting to become an annual event, even if the dates of the holiday do not coincide with the tree lighting.

Previously, they had not done a menorah lighting because he feared it would be “lost in the shuffle” among other holiday-related events during the month. This year, though, the timing was too good to pass up.

A Chanukah celebration dovetailed with what the district’s planning committee had already laid out for events at the Shambles — incorporating a menorah lighting “worked out brilliantly,” he said.

The four-foot-tall menorah will be up seven feet in the air, making it easily seen in the Lombard Street Fountain area, right across from where the Christmas tree lighting takes place.
It will be lit for all eight nights of the holiday.

Arrowood reached out to Lubavitch of Center City, whose Rabbi Yochonon Goldman agreed to come on board and lead the service.

“I think it’s wonderful that they are reaching out to the Jewish community and providing a menorah lighting ceremony for the neighborhood,” Rabbi Goldman said. “They’re trying to be more inclusive and respectful of the Jewish community, and I applaud them for that and want to support that because I think it’s a beautiful gesture. I think the Jewish neighborhoods will very much appreciate it.”

He added the service will probably be on the shorter side, but its messages will last throughout the first night — and the following seven after that.

“We hope to bring a message of hope and light, which is what Chanukah is all about,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for Jewish neighbors to be able to socialize and meet each other and celebrate Chanukah publicly in this neighborhood-sponsored event, which I’m looking forward to.”

The menorah-lighting service will start at 4:30 p.m. while the whole day’s events run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0740


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here