Bethlehem nativity set to mark 50th anniversary

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

Oh come all ye faithful, the Bethlehem Nativity has reached a big number.

Nativity coordinator Kevin Croxton said this year’s 50th anniversary presentation marks a milestone.

“We’re trying to get the word out,” he said. “It’s kind of neat that it’s been going on this long.”

The tradition began in 1958, and was organized by Bethlehem Methodist Church, Bethlehem Baptist Church and Point Pleasant Christian Church. “It’s a community thing,” Croxton said, “but they have sponsored it from the beginning.”

Croxton, who is with Point Pleasant Christian Church, said the churches put up the stable, provide refreshments and costumes, and advertise the event. “The costumes are authentic,” he said.

Church members, as well as other groups including entire families, take turns portraying the 12 characters in the tableau. Local farmers lend livestock to add to the scene’s authenticity.

“We’ve used the same donkey for I don’t know how long,” Croxton said. “We haven’t quite got him where he automatically jumps in the back of the truck yet.”

He said about 1,500 to 2,000 people view the presentation each year.

“People can walk over, stand, reflect and listen to music,” Croxton said. “Others enjoy just driving by and looking.”

He said folks have told him it’s just not Christmas until they see the Nativity.

“It’s a good ministry,” Croxton said. “Some people even take pictures and make Christmas cards out of them.”

Bethlehem’s Nativity will run Dec. 22-25, from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. each night.


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