15 Sep 2014
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Celtic Cultural Alliance Celebrates 25 Years

Organization responsible for Celtic Classic and St. Patrick's Day Parade of Shamrocks celebrates a quarter century in Bethlehem this year.

Celtic Cultural Alliance Celebrates 25 Years


Business: Celtic Cultural Alliance

Location: 532 Main St.

Executive Director: Jayne Ann Recker

Contact info: 610-868-9599

What's special/unique about your Organization?

"The Celtic Cultural Alliance preserves and promotes the Celtic culture, through education, musical presentations, and traditional competitions in athletics, piping and dance. We are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year and look forward to sharing a lot of great events with the community."

What's your most popular product/service?

The organization's most popular offering is the held every year in late september in downtown Historic Bethlehem. Its an event that draws more than 275,000 people over a three day period into downtown. The Celtic Classic is a celebration of Celtic culture and heritage. As a part of this celebration the following events and activities take place:

  • Four stages of continuous entertainment featuring international, national and regional artists.
  • The Celtic Classic Invitational Pipe Band Competition
  • US National Highland Athletic Championships
  • The “Showing of the Tartan” Parade
  • Haggis Competition
  • Solas exclusive one-time concert
  • Whisky Tasting Event
  • The 14th Annual Celtic Classic Fiddle Competition
  • A diverse marketplace of Celtic crafts, merchandise and collectibles
  • Kids Craft Tent
  • Celtic Crossroads (theater, music and film)

How have you weathered the recession?

"Its not so much CCA weathering the recession as it is weathering the weather.  Presenting outdoor events is always a challenge and weather is always a factor. Several years ago we were completely rained out. But through the dedication of our board of directors, sponsors, staff and our very supportive community we were able to weather the storm and come back even stronger.  We generate $17 million in economic impact yearly for the and we have a great working relationship with city officials.

What's your favorite story/anecdote about your business?

"Working with our sponsors, (nearly 1,000) volunteers and community partners is really enjoyable. CCA works closely with the community and helps enrich it through cultural education and celebration. There have been so many favorite stories over the years its very hard to pick just one. Just last year we launched the first ever here in Bethlehem. It was the first St. Patrick's Parade in Bethlehem and it was a huge success. So much so we've developed it into an annual event with a large party following the parade. So I hope you'll join in Bethlehem this ."

Tell us about the history of the organization.

On Columbus Day weekend in 1988, the first Celtic Classic was presented by a small group of individuals, organized as Celtic Fest, Inc. The goal of this group was to create an event that symbolized the Celtic spirit and history, and to provide the impetus for an organization that focused on promoting the Celtic culture.

The first Celtic Classic, in Historic Downtown Bethlehem, was attended by approximately 30,000 people from Southeastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey who braved snow squalls and an average temperature of 47 degrees.

The venues for this inaugural event included the Sun Inn Courtyard and the Community Arts Pavilion, along with the Grand Pavilion and Parade Grounds, which are still a part of the event.  

The Celtic Classic has since blossomed into one of the largest Highland Games and Festival in North America. Annually, over 250,000 visitors come to Historic Bethlehem to join in this celebration of all things Celtic.  

In 1992, on the 5th Anniversary of the Celtic Classic, the goals of the organization were fulfilled by expanding into year-round programming. In partnership with Moravian College, a series of lectures were introduced and presented in Foy Hall, on the campus.

In the years that have followed, the educational programming has expanded to include community outreach events in area school districts, religious institutions, local theaters and colleges throughout the Lehigh Valley. A series of scholarships are awarded each year in varied areas of Celtic culture

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