For the 49th consecutive year, the small town of Bethlehem will play host to a live nativity scene.
From 6:30 to 9 p.m., Saturday through Christmas Day, residents from throughout the area will gather to either take part in what has become an annual tradition. Organizer Kevin Croxton said the event began in 1959.
"It got started years ago when the churches got together to do a project because of the name of the town, he said.
Croxton said approximately 175 people will take part in the nativity, either as characters, dressers or scene constructors. The event, he said, is sponsored by the three Bethlehem churches and participants now come from other communities.
"It's a fellowship thing," he said All (Bethlehem) churches are working together, we really cant say its work because you're doing it for Jesus."
It may be hard to know just how many people come out to see the nativity, though Croxton estimated more than 1,500 people view the nativity each year.
"I think it's probably bigger than most people realize," he said.
What's special about the Bethlehem nativity, he said, is that it's become tradition. He added that the nativity helps to represent something besides the commercial part of Christmas.
"It's love of Jesus," he said. "We kind of looked at it as ministry."
Additionally, some folks say it's not quite Christmas until the Bethlehem nativity scene starts going up.
"When they see that wagon with the scenes on it, they say it must be Christmas time."
Croxton encourages folks to come out to the nativity for a very simple reason.
"Because that's what Christmas is all about," he said. "That's what we're here for. You wouldn't have Christmas if it wasn't for the birth of Jesus Christ."
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