By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
Four Bethlehem Mounted Police horses officially moved into their state-of-the-art stable June 1 on a 10-acre parcel of land at Holy Saviour Cemetery, Bethlehem.
Leading the ribbon cutting ceremony for the facility were: Msgr. William Baver, director of diocesan cemeteries and pastor of SS. Simon and Jude, Bethlehem; Tom Tenges, president of Friends of Bethlehem Mounted Unit; Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez; and Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio.
The four horses who dedicate their lives to protecting the community from violence and unrest for a combined total of 20 years – will reside at the new rustic Quadrant Private Wealth Stable Facility.
The first floor of the facility is equipped with seven horse stalls, two washing facilities, meeting room and office area. The second floor features the officer quarters.
Tenges said the shared vision to provide local care for the horses – Pharaoh, George, Asa and Grey – began in 2009 with the Bethlehem Police, volunteers, local businesses and members of the community.
Together they formed the Friends of Bethlehem Mounted Unit and embarked on a capital campaign and long and bumpy road for land.
“We searched for two years for land. Then an angel appeared in the form of the Allentown Diocese,” said Tenges.
“They offered us a 10-acre site. We were in need of a miracle and there they were. We owe them so much for making this site available.”
Msgr. Baver offered a prayer blessing the stables and the horses for “sustaining and protecting the officers” in their dangerous work of public service.
“We are most happy to enter into agreement with the Bethlehem Mounted Police. It’s worthwhile for the diocese,” he said.
Msgr. Baver said the cemetery gates never close and police will often patrol the cemetery to protect headstones, monuments and the memory of the deceased.
“Having police force nearby is a way of safety for our diocese. We are so happy to have the horses here as our good neighbor,” he said.
Mayor Donchez also thanked the diocese for providing the land located on East Langhorne Avenue.
“This is a real example of how and why citizens should come together. This is a real example of how we can do great things together,” he said.
Chief DiLuzio called the ceremony the opening of a new chapter in city history and police history.
“It takes a community to raise a barn – and we did it. And it didn’t cost taxpayers one cent,” said the chief.
The $500,000 facility was funded through a capital campaign and private donations.
Friends of Bethlehem Mounted Police raises the money to pay for the care of the horses, which are used for crowd control at Musikfest, help search for missing people and were sent on special assignment to keep the crowds safe in Philadelphia during Pope Francis’ 2015 visit.