SPARROWS POINTS (WJZ) – The “Star of Bethlehem” is lit once more at Sparrows Point.
“It’s definitely the official start to the Christmas season,” said retired steelmaker Tom Stoll. “It keeps the memory of Bethlehem Steel alive.”
Tradepoint Atlantic officials lit the steel star mounted on the company’s water tower on Thursday during an annual ceremony.
“My father passed away last year. So come and watch it light up again…” attendee Ken Medlin, Jr. say, finish. “He’s been working here for a long time and he loves it.”
The star is also the Bethlehem Steel star that has been lit since 1978 from the top of the factory’s “Lo L”.
“It is the Star of Bethlehem. That’s hope,” said retired ironman Jeff Mikula last month at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. “So much pride. That’s a lot of hope for a lot of people. Too many of them sacrificed their (life) there. A lot of people have died throughout the years.”
It is unknown how many trees have died during the plant’s 125 years of operation. A monument to fallen steelworkers, once located outside the union hall, is now located in Dundalk’s Heritage Park.
At its height, Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point was once the largest steel mill in the world, responsible for building ships, tall buildings and bridges.
“When you work in a place like that, it’s in your blood. It’s in your pores,” says Mikula.
Bethlehem Steel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001. Steel production continued through other owners until 2012. The “Lo L” was demolished in 2015.
The original “Star of Bethlehem” is long-lived, lit up in various locations since then. Its new home sits on the north-facing Tradepoint Atlantic water tower.
“Everybody in the community relies on it to watch it from Thanksgiving to the beginning of the year,” says Mikula.
This year’s light comes with a steel promise to return to Sparrows Point. A manufacturing facility is working with US Wind, making building materials for wind farms along the east coast.
“It was emotional,” said Jim Strong of the Steelworkers ahead of the August announcement. “We have always considered this area sacred.”
The facility is expected to create 500 jobs for the union when it goes live.
The Baltimore Museum of Industry has numerous exhibits on the history of Bethlehem Steel and a temporary photography exhibit by Joe Giordano.
https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2021/12/03/baltimore-star-of-bethlehem-lit-sparrows-point/ ‘Star Of Bethlehem’ Lights Up With Steel Promise To Return To Sparrows Point – CBS Baltimore